February 21st, 2010
04:30 PM ET
11 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 • Extra • Jon Corzine • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (77 Responses)

    I think that Bayh will say all that and then turn around and run for Governor and then possibly as a presidential contender in 2012 . It seems like all politicians say one thing and do another! True, we are in bad shape in the US .. I thank mostly the repubes for that.

    February 21, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Giovanni

    Moral of the Story: Republicans like how Congress is working right now. Democrats want to fix it. Republicans are obstructing.

    February 21, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. katiec

    The problem with Bayh is he had conflicting interests. His wife is on the board of 14 corporations, several being insurance companies, consequently his lack of support for Health Care Reform. He did not conduct bi-partianship, he put personal gains first. He is more republican than Democrat,
    The republicans will continue their goals to destroy our president, consequently our country and us, party first, support big business while sacrificing the American people.
    They are a disgrace to our political system and our country.

    February 21, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. willowood

    A little cheese with your Whine, Mr. Bayh? What a cowardly thing to do right before the filing deadline. I felt your half hearted support of the President's health care plan presented you as the non-team player that you seem to be. Now get back to your job and push this healthcare legislation through so you can at least reclaim your father's good name if not your own. And please don't announce for President (ah ah, so you are thinking along those lines...wow). It just won't resonate with those of us who knew you when...

    February 21, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. Vincent Petrosino

    Just what are we discussing here with Evan Bayh and his decision to not seek re-election? Was he ever anything but a luke warm supporter of President Obama? Was he not more supportive of Hillary Clinton? Does he not hail from a state that might as well be south of Arkansas in thinking? And do you think he will not run for the presidency again in the future if not 2012? Think again, People. This is a calculated move.

    February 21, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Michael from Ventura

    I find it astounding that I agree with Sen. Bayh. I do think that he had his own testosterone issues too though (Healthcare).

    February 21, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. USN

    If you STOP something the people do not want is "gridlock" so be it . I'LL say NO.

    February 21, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. annie against biased news

    The only thing dysfunctional in our government is the progressives on both sides of the isle and the so-called president trying to destroy our country. If bayh is such a believer in what he spews from his mouth why doesn't he step down now and work for the cause of the greater good like Sarah Palin did. Not be a quitter and hang on for his taxpayer funded paycheck. This man is just another bs'er!

    February 21, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. lieNoMore

    Oh come on!! This the biggest pile of phony non-sense ever –idiots club. Bayh should be ashamed of himself, nostalgia is not history. Next thing you know Bayh will be telling us that back in his father's day everyone lived happily ever after too.

    Come off the cornfield, if you want corporate back-slapping and monophony go into the so-called (not so) "private sector". Otherwise join the list of quitters like Palin and step aside, just spare us the phony loser's shrill nostalgia.

    February 21, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Just stop it Bayh! The gridlock is caused by right wingers who will not under any circumstance do anything to make this president look good. Why don't you just say that? Of yeah, you are planning a presidential run in 2012 as an "Independant". You sir are a weasel!

    February 21, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. Bob

    I don't know which tribe they're talking about, but, while our tribal government here in North Dakota may not agree with each other, they certainly have the maturity and responsibility to work together to get things accomplished for our people. That is what they are really there for. The commentators forget themselves in serving whomever is paying for their next campaign. To describe politics as "tribal" is an insult to tribal people living and WORKING TOGETHER in the United States.

    February 21, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. rob

    It doesn't have to be that way. The true leaders... the people who are not afraid to do what is right, what is best for this country and what is best for the American people... who are not so concerned about polls and the next election, will not allow gridlock to occur. They will not put party over country. The ones who put party first, are scum and will pay for it dearly.

    February 21, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. Gil Oberdas

    It is called the right wing hate ethic!

    February 21, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  14. Conservatism equals illiterate ignorance

    The digruntled Repugnants have made it totally inconceivable to do anything in the Senate thus tieing up Congress and Governement and making them inoperative and unable to accomplish anything. Then they sit on the sidelines and com-plain how nothing can be done, but what they fail to say is they refuse to allow anything to take place unless it is explicitly thier ideas and efforts completely destroying the very concept of Democracy and then they wonder why nothing gets done and fail to see it is they who are the obstructionists and destroying the very ideas Democracy is based upon, the ruling and law making of the majority.

    February 21, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. johnrj08

    At first, the "testosterone" comment sounded silly, but if you look at the Viagra side of the aisle, it makes a lot of sense. A lot of dumpy white men who believe, like Henry KIssinger, that power is the best aphrodysiac. These men are addicted to the only form of power they've ever had in their lives and they're willing to do ANYTHING to hold onto it. Even destroy the economy.

    February 21, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    I wish Bayh would stay and fight; the Republicans' strategy is (like all bullies with very little brain, just a willingness to be royal jerks) is to make life as miserable for the President, Congress and our country, in an effort to beat everyone down.

    And we all know that once a bully has power, he continues to bully until someone stands up to him and knocks him on his fanny.

    It's time to stand up, call out and knock that bully (the Republicans) end over eyeball!

    February 21, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. bob

    If something bad ever happened in the life of these GOP guys saying no to everything they're calling socialism, you can bet they'd be first in line to collect on the entitlements they are so vehemently "against" during their good times.

    February 21, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Jeff Ament

    Party designations should not be attached to names at the polls.

    February 21, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. paul

    get rid of Roberts Rules of Order and institute a Constitutional amendment which will enforce a parliament. Enforce a maximum f 4 2 year terns for congress, and 2 ful 6 year terms for senate. Get rid of the filibuster.

    February 21, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. John in WV

    It's all about winning. Hurting the other side and hoping for their failure regardless of the fact that it is the American people that suffer. If you think it is unusual to see this many lawmakers stepping down at one time, wait until you see how many voters stay home on election day.

    February 21, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. steven schwarz

    This is one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. It is so refreshing to see people discussing a topic in a logical, well thought out manner without rancor. If only our political parties could act the same we might be able to get something done in congress. It's a shame that it takes people who are out of office to reach across the aisle.

    February 21, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. charles

    Whatever excuses you make will not help the american people. The polarization is brought up because you as elected representative no longer represent the peoples intrest . You only think about being re-elected back to office than things that would help the common man. You compromise the future of this country just to please your consitituents. Who doent know that healthy care is innaccessible and is bankrupting the present and future generations of this country?. Who doent know that you have to cut spending even if it means hurting your consituences? This list can go on and on. Had the founding fathers and mothers of this country didnt take on some very controvercial issues at there time, there would be things like slavery in this country. They did what they thought was good for this country no matter what most peolple felt at that time. Running way will not help you or the future generations of this country. You will never be a Predident of this country!!!!. Most people are being hurt because of rising healthy care costs , but most you think that social issues such as abortion are at the fore front hence you have the right to block the healthy care bill. Some of us prefer to have the government healthy care , but the insurence companys prevailed. Medicare is bankrupting this country , but you guys prefer to maintain the status quo.

    February 21, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. mw

    Politicians too busy counting money from lobbyist handouts. Too busy working toward reelection. Need to replace everyone who has been in Congress for more than 6 years, and start over in hopes of finding people interested in keeping America strong and working FOR the people who vote them into office-not politician bank accounts.

    February 21, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Linda

    Would not you want to make all your decisions based on re-election as opposed to the good of the country. After all, the money made from being in office..... sarcasm and cynicism intended.

    February 21, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    For each of the last two weeks, the republican hate support group has been out with their spouting their venom of obstruction, fear, and lies. Hard to believe that Americans will find their message is the answer to getting things done in Washington.

    February 21, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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