February 22nd, 2010
08:19 AM ET
3 years ago

Bayh: Gridlock caused by 'testosterone poisoning,' tribalism


Washington (CNN) – Disenchanted Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh on Sunday blamed "tribal" politics for the gridlock that is paralyzing Capitol Hill.

"Our politics in Congress has become tribal in some ways. We have the tribe of the Democrats and tribe of the Republicans," Bayh said, appearing on CNN's State of the Union with Democrat Jon Corzine, a former New Jersey governor and senator, and Republican Susan Molinari, a former House member from New York.

In discussing partisanship, Molinari said that "women have a tendency to band together a little bit more than the men."

Bayh interjected: "It's testosterone poisoning; it's not our fault."

"You said it. I didn't," Molinari joked in response.

Bayh, who stunned Democrats last week when he announced he will not seek re-election in November, spoke about why he believes Congress can't get much done.

"Well, the culture really has changed," Bayh told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
"We have a lot of wonderful people, well-meaning people, but they're trapped in a system that's dysfunctional," said Bayh, whose father also served in the Senate.

The Indiana Democrat faulted the culture of Congress and political fundraising. "Back in my father's day, there was a lot more interaction. You had friendships across the aisle regardless of partisanship, regardless of ideology," said Bayh.

Corzine was even more blunt in his analysis.

"Winning has become the objective more than problem solving or the common good," the New Jersey Democrat told Crowley. "And I think it infects both sides. I don't think it's one side or the other. And so everything is focused on the election outcomes and people have lost track that sometimes good people do things that may not be as politically attractive."

For her part, Molinari was less critical of Capitol Hill.

"I still think Washington is a pretty good place with some terrific people working here," she said.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN


Filed under: Congress • Evan Bayh • Jon Corzine • State of the Union
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Tom in Delaware

    "It's testosterone poisoning; it's not our fault."

    Silly me....and here I thought the gridlock was caused because the American people have totally rejected the ideas and policies that the Liberals want to 'help' everybody with.....

    February 22, 2010 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  2. Marie MD

    Whatever the excuse what most of us want is for our elected officials to do their job for us, including passing a health care bill with public option. Don't worry about the 2010 or 2012 elections!

    February 22, 2010 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  3. Larry

    Bayh's comment is as lame as our government in general.

    February 22, 2010 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  4. Omavi

    I am sure this has already been said, but "testosterone poisoning?" (FIRST the dems need a way to PRODUCE it!)

    How is that, coming from a liberal?

    February 22, 2010 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. Dan

    It is a real shame, I believe Bayh is dead on with this one. Instead of our two party system producing different points of view they present different ways of scoring political points at America's expense.

    February 22, 2010 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  6. T'SAH from Virginia

    All MALE problems.... Get rid of all the MALES in Congress – especially the OLD ones – hire WOMEN and watch the job get DONE!! Case and POINT!!!

    February 22, 2010 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  7. jim

    the spirit of what is said, here, is true, to some extent.

    I would point out, however, that the democrats have specifically asked for input from the republicans, have specifically said they are willing and ready to sit down with the republicans.

    the republicans, on the other hand, have only said no, have only blocked legislation(even legislation they themselves had sponsored), have only acted in an obstructionist way.

    February 22, 2010 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  8. Jane/Seattle

    If this were really "Tribal" perhaps the Human Tribe would care for it's Life and the Earth which sustains it. One must look to see the Big Picture. And yes, I do agree that many groups have become so narrow as to fail in the tasks they choose to fail at doing! This would include the gridlock of the members of a government gone Corporate and Greedy! Peace

    February 22, 2010 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  9. WoW

    Corzine shouldn't be giving any advice whatsoever. He was a very poor senator and an even poorer govenor. The only reason why he was running was because he backed his campaigns heavily with his own personal finances. The best thing for NJ was having him voted out.

    February 22, 2010 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  10. TomInRochNY

    When moderates from both parties start quitting and switching parties, it's time to vote incumbents out. I can't wait to see how 2010 turns out.

    February 22, 2010 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  11. Eric

    That may be part of the problem, but not all. Politician's no longer work for the people that elected them...once in office, they see the gain they can make from their contact with special interest groups, donors, etc., and get greedy and power hungry.

    This happens to elected officials from both parties.

    February 22, 2010 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  12. Billionaire

    The Democrats have attempted to reach across the aisle and work with the GOP but have had their hand bitten time and time again. This past year all the GOP has been concerned about is protecting the insurance industry and making inroads with white supremacist groups like the Tea Party. The left has been distancing itself from the right wing because of the increase in fanaticism. Who would've thought so much malfunction would have come at such a grave time for action.

    February 22, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. Jeff

    So, testosterone bad, estrogen good? Nice to know you represent ALL the people of your district! Maybe you should have made that more clear BEFORE you ran for office.

    February 22, 2010 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Nimises

    Let's do nothing for 4 years and make the 2012 predictions of world collapse come true.

    February 22, 2010 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  15. MissyW

    I couldn't agree more. Short of voting out all the men in government and electing only women; who, in my opinion, will always find a way to work with one another, the time has come for two term limits for EVERY public office no matter if its federal, state or local! Lets get rid of the professional politicians once and for all! Who's with me!

    February 22, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. Liz

    The gridlock is caused by people who, even after losing an election, think they have the God-given right to dictate to the country. It's time we opened up a giant can of reality and forcefed it to the repuglicans! We said NO to your tired, proven unsound ideas. Your way of doing things almost destroyed this country. And yet you continually insist that if we go back to doing the wrong thing, it'll somehow work now. NO, it won't! Come up with some new ideas, ideas that will actually benefit ALL Americans, not just the top 1%, and maybe your ideas will be welcomed.

    February 22, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  17. Baby Boomer

    Senator Bayh mentioned back in his father's day and how they were able to get things done. Let's look at that for just a sec. There were no people of color and almost no women serving in congress when Burch Bayh was there so of course there was no tribalism. THEY WERE ALL FROM THE SAME TRIBE.. Only some were a bit more liberal than others. What I've notice most is that the folks obstructing everything these days seem to belong to that old original tribe. Hmmmm...

    February 22, 2010 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  18. Robert

    The current state primary systems favor extremists facing each other in the final election. The election laws need to be changed to allow all registered voters in each state to vote in all state primaries. This would favor centrists to face each other in November.

    February 22, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  19. dora

    That is not testosterone fouling up the system Senator Bayh, that is money and greed. Did the insurance company that pays your wilfe millions pay you to step out of the way? Do your homework people, the Senators who are holding up any kind of meaningful reform, are all directly linked to the Healthcare/Insurance megacorporations. Take the money out of politics. We need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and throw the money lenders out of our temple. Get rid of K Street and see how many Senators and Congressmen suddenly aren't interested in public office anymore.

    February 22, 2010 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Corzine is correct is this case. It is the goal of some groups that all they get is control of what ever it is. I would like to see members of Congress to actually represent the people who elected them. There is too much party involved with indivual members.

    February 22, 2010 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. Kevin in Ohio

    Its more than two tribes at play... we have far left progressives, middle of the road liberals and conservatives, and far-right conservatives. And it was the far left that would not agree with centrist democrats....how else can the inability of the senate to pass Health care legislation be explained? They had the filibuster-proof majority....and they could not do it.

    February 22, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  22. RTB

    Maybe if Bayh and others like him acted more like true Democrats instead of the watered down version he represents we would get more done in Washington.

    So good riddance to Bayh, perhaps the good folks of Indiana will vote in a real Democratic Senator next time and get what they vote for.

    February 22, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  23. Serenia Caldwell

    Sen Bayh is a good man and I believe in his integrity. But he really should just be honest and say he just can't stand the democrat party anymore. The leaders are intent mostly on revenge to any republican they can find. This is not good governance.
    Tell the truth, Bayh, as I think you have in the past for the most part.

    February 22, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. Justen in Florida

    Need I remind everyone that if the democratic party wasn't gridlocked in itself, with no help from the republicans, the democrats could pass any bill they want.

    untill the MA election, the republicans couldn't even filibuster.

    February 22, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. Navybill

    Personally I like rancor in the ranks since it makes for such fun viewing. Additionally, the inside-the-beltway crowd does less to $crew us over. It's akin to having the government shut down – $110M a day is a small price to pay to keep those bafoons from raising taxes and passing more laws to reign in free enterprise. Have a great day out there...stay away from DC and be safer.

    February 22, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
1 2 3