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. J. Stevens

    I am very tired of Congress. I send representatives to Congress to get the business of the country done. Not to vote against everything the Democrats try to do just because it's a Democratic idea and vice versa.

    I've seen better behavior in my Kindergarten classroom!

    February 22, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Gridlock is a byproduct of the "political machine", where the party is more important than the country.

    February 22, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. mboma

    where have you been senator?

    February 22, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  4. Paul C.

    I'm not sure why this is suddenly an issue. Our "public servants" have always placed winning above everything else. If you have any doubts please review the generous perks and pay they've voted for themselves. They deny themselves nothing... from subsidized dining clubs, chauffeur driven limousines, a private subway so they won't be exposed to the ugly outside, full retirement pay after 1 term (even those who fill only a partial term) and unlimited health care. Their major pursuit is to find additional benefits they can grant themselves. If I had the power I would require voter approval for every benefit they enjoy.
    Why do you think they spend millions to get elected? For the chance to help the country? Please.....

    February 22, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. Paul Dutter

    Why is it that when the politicians finally get a backbone, they cut and run? Now that they realize how badly the system is broken and they are in a position to do something about it, they leave office. Stay and help fix it.

    February 22, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. Phuq Ewe Tu

    Gridlock is what the Republicans want. They hate poor people, children without health care and people of color. If they help the poor then they have lost a major battle – the battle of the rich against the poor – the haves and the have nots. They would rather see their own women be gang raped than to give one inch towards the middle-class. Yes, the GOP is a tribe – Greedy Old Pricks.

    February 22, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Jamie

    Thank goodness a male will actually admit this, thank you Bayh. The old white male establishment, now mainly scavenging through the Republican party, are nothing more than spoiled petulant little 10 year olds.

    February 22, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. ran

    What is needed now is for the Democrats to pass bills by any means available. Until the Republicans stop their fear/hate/obstructionist/purity ideology they will not work with this President or Democrats in hopes they will regain power.

    We can send a clear message by electing either a true Democrat or Independent in 2010/2012 and not reward a single win to the Republicans.

    It is plan to see that the Democrats are trying to get us out of the messes we are in and the Republicans want us to stay in the mess in hopes that will get them back power. People lets us say to the Republicans "NO" in 2010/2012.

    February 22, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Tony in Maine

    Ever since Ronnie Reagan brought Hollywood to the Oval Office, American conservatives have mistaken testosterone for intelligence. The ultimate manifestation with Dubya doing his bow legged cowboy walk and spitting "baccy" out the window of an old pickup on his "ranch."

    February 22, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. Doraine Gordon

    Like father, like son. Another prime example of children stepping into office because their father was there ahead of them. You know good and well they just carry on the same ideas of the parent before them. That is one thing that is wrong with Politics today. We need young blood and new blood in Washington. Maybe then we could get off the old beaten trail, get down to business, and get something done for the American people. Bayh held up health care reform because it would have affected his wife's job. I am glad he resigned.

    February 22, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. gw

    If Bayh had any testosterone he's fight instead of running away. He's a bit like the male version of Palin, except she has more testosterone that he does.

    February 22, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. gt

    bayh should of been president ,,, we need more that are in the middle not the far left nut jobs like boxer and lehay or the far right either....

    February 22, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. bobby

    Thank thr Lord you have imaginative and creative business men who keep your economy and thus your country running, because your government and its elected representatives are totally incapable of getting anything done. Hell it cant even govern effectively if at all they are all acting like a bunch of spoiled kids who if they don't get their way stamp their feet and run away. I don't think there is another government in the industrialized world that is so broken and ineffective. You know how a dentist fixes a cavity? He has to remove al the decaying stuff around the cavity then fill it anew. I suggest you guys do the same..throw them all out and start fresh with new and more committed faces.It cant be worse!

    February 22, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Audrey in Georgia

    Evan, I bet you think you are one of those wonderful, well-meaning people who got trapped in the dysfunctional system with a democrat
    for President. Did you feel trapped for the 8 years Bush was president?
    Well now, you are free to exit the senatorial stage to the right.

    February 22, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. lisa

    Molinari is wrong. women are on to seperate sides as well. Abortion or Pro life. They will not acknowledge one another, unless they are on one side or the other no matter what.
    Women in goverment need to wise up now a learn from the thick skulled men. Otherwise they will be no differant.

    February 22, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Im sure poor Evan will get a nice job at Wellpoint Healthcare Systems, for his fine job of undermining the American family.

    February 22, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Free Thinker

    Bayh – a wolf in sheep's clothing. Nothing but a party line liberal acting like a conservative democrat. He is now afraid to run because he knows he would not win. He blames everybody but himself. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    February 22, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia

    The only thing I see that is CULTURALLY different is that a Black Man is now the President....

    Maybe MOST in Congress (RepubliCAN'Ts) cannot digest that fact and/or they refuse to accept it and abide by this President's NEEDS!!!

    The ONLY way the CULTURAL atmosphere will change is when they reelect a WHITE MAN as President and this SAME BUNCH as mentioned above will be able to SEE eye to eye and agree on getting things done!!!

    IT'S A SHAME!!!!

    February 22, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. Cindy from Middle GA

    "We have a lot of wonderful people, well-meaning people, but they're trapped in a system that's dysfunctional," said Bayh.

    With all due respect – YOU folks are the ones with the power to change it – instead you quit. I understand why, but wouldn't it be better to spend your energy trying to change the dysfunction than walk away?

    February 22, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Ba-Ba Black Sheep

    A word to all US politicians.
    If you introduce legislation that cannot be agreed upon by 80% of the legislative body, then it is not good legislkation and shouldn't be passed. It's needs to be good for everyone, not just a few.

    February 22, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. The Voice

    It's funny how Democrats worked with useless Bush during his presidency... as soon as the Democrats win the white house the Republicans are blocking everything and instilling fear on the American people.

    The Republicans want the white house back so they can finish destroying America. They will do it at any cost even making a deal with the devil.

    February 22, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Minnesota gal

    Bayh is leaving because he is a corporate shill. AND HE KNOWS THE PUBLIC KNOWS IT.

    February 22, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. Grundoon

    With the conservative members of the SCOTUS changing their minds and now giving corporations "person" status this situation will only get worse. America needs Lobby Reform NOW!!!

    February 22, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. JA/TN

    our congress is self serving, liars, forget about the good for the people, big business sponsors, once elected

    February 22, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. sonny chapman

    The Red Tribe & the Blue Tribe try to destroy each other. Aristotle would be extremely disapointed in the "advancement" of Western Civilization.

    February 22, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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