Digby nails this one as usual -- It's Too Haaard:
In a final act of perfidy, Evan Bayh walks away from reelection at the last possible moment, thus ensuring that the voters will not have a chance to choose and allowing the party apparatus to pick a Blue Dog creep to replace him. It just doesn't get any better than this.
And as she noted Ron Brownstein had a similar reaction when talking to Andrea Mitchell today about Bayh's retirement.
Brownstein: It's hard to see how he justifies this to other Democrats. But look it's more broadly what's happening with the Democratic Party. They've gone from 93-94, it took them 15 years to reestablish unified control of the House and the Senate and the White House as they did in 2009. And here they are, one year into it and the party seems to be in many respects losing its nerve. You have the Bayh thing as the latest in a series of --, Beau Biden, Lisa Madigan in Illinois, a variety of Democratic House members in tough districts walking away.
Look, politics is a contact sport and the Democrats have had the best opportunity they've had in 15 years to advance their agenda, and yet as they take all the flack that comes with that it feels like some of the party is crumbling and losing their nerve. Stunning decision.
Not so stunning if as Digby notes "they'd actually prefer to have a Republican congress because then nobody can expect them to deliver anything but bipartisan neoliberal policy which is what they prefer to deliver". The one thing that isn't adding up with that argument is they're claiming Bayh didn't tell anyone he was going to do this.
I'm still trying to make sense of all of this but it looks to me like Bayh not only decided to get his digs on the progressive wing of the party by making sure there was no chance of anyone better than another corporate Blue Dog having a chance of getting elected with no time left for a primary challenger to get in there, but the Democratic leadership as well if he actually took them by surprise with this announcement.
UPDATE: TPM is reporting that Bayh is saying a lack of a primary is a good thing for the Democrats. I can see this as being a good thing if it kept out some of the big name Republicans like Mike Pence out of the Republican primary, but I'm not buying that some back room deal to put another DINO in his place is something wonderful for the party or the Senate.