Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s decision to retire after two-terms in the upper chamber was not entirely surprising considering his sluggish poll numbers and inability to effectively communicate with constituents in his home state.
What caught my eye, however, was an anonymous email passed along by Mike Allen in today’s Politico Playbook. It read, in part:
“The retirement is a reflection of the growing polarization of the body. Nelson could work with anybody in the senate. Either side. His growing frustration with the domination of partisanship within the body lead to this decision.”
Evan Bayh offered similar spin when he, in the 11th hour, decided to forego a match-up against then-former Senator Dan Coats in Indiana.
His rationale: “There is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.”
Isn’t stepping down under those circumstances allowing partisanship to win? If you feel so strongly that things in Washington have gotten out of hand, don’t you owe it to yourself and your constituents to stay in and fight?
It’s hard not to read these statements and think in both cases – Nelson and Bayh – gave the same partisans they decry a huge victory.