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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Bayh's bye-bye: What defines a moderate?

Evan Bayh's announced intent to depart the Senate has spawned pieces like these which make much use of the 'M' word without rigorous definition. Moderate is presumed to be the opposite of extreme, but what does it mean in practical terms? That Bayh does what voters in Indiana finds non-threatening? Does it mean he supports U.S. military efforts but opposes dismantling Social Security or public option? Does it mean he doesn't yell? 

Punditry told us during the 2004 Democratic primary that Democrat John Kerry was a "moderate" but Howard Dean was "extreme" because he let out a scream after losing a primary. Before that, we thought he was just a sweater-donning physician who'd been Vermont governor and collected small contributions over the Web.

Maybe Bayh is just ambitious. He says he thinks of himself as an executive. He may figure this is a bad time for his career or supposed future presidential ambition to be voting on partisan Senate measures. Or maybe he really is just tired of the whole thing. For now he gets the "Moderate" label, whatever it means.

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