Yet what’s most disturbing about No Labels is that its centrist, no doubt well-intentioned leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us. Indeed, No Labels itself is another manifestation of this syndrome. Its two prime movers are a political consultant, Mark McKinnon, a veteran of the Bush and McCain campaigns known for slick salesmanship; and a fund-raiser, Nancy Jacobson, who, along with her husband, the pollster and corporate flack Mark Penn, helped brand the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as a depository for special-interest contributions.
No less depressing is the No Labels veneration of Evan Bayh, the Democratic senator from Indiana who decided to retire this year rather than fight for another term. For months now, Bayh has been positioning himself as a sacrificial lamb to broken Washington; when he made the rounds plugging No Labels last week, he was greeted as a martyr on MSNBC. What goes unmentioned in the Bayh morality tale is that in quitting the Senate without a fight, he became part of the problem rather than the solution: his exit facilitated the election of a high-powered corporate lobbyist, Dan Coats, as his Republican successor. Then again, Bayh’s father — another former liberal Democratic senator — is also a lobbyist. (Evan Bayh has so far been mum about his own post-Senate career plans.)