So what exactly is going to be Sen. Evan Bayh’s legacy? That he ran away at the opportune time – for the betterment of the nation?

I don’t get it. There’s no health issue. There’s no political scandal, for a change. The guy’s a lock to be re-elected, but he decides to step down during one of the most tumultuous times in our country’s history because he doesn’t like the way things are working in Washington, D.C.

We used to call people like that quitters.

Apparently that’s not the case anymore. Pundits seem to be either fawning over him or debating the politics of his decision – not the principle.

Washington Post columnist David Broder, in a piece we just posted (and will appear on page B5 in Thursday’s edition), notes, “I cannot fault Bayh for leaving, nor can I disagree with his statement that ‘short-term political advantage’ trumped the national interest in this case and in many others in this sorry excuse for a Congress.”

Baloney. There’s plenty of fault to be found with Bayh who, despite his accomplishments and intentions, retires a sorry excuse for a senator. At last check, there are 15 million people unemployed in this nation. This doesn’t count the number of people who have given up looking for work, are working part-time or are stuck in thankless, dead-end jobs because they know they need a way to pay their mortgage and provide for their families.

That also doesn’t include the number of people who are working long hours and persevering because they know that other people, the people working for them or maybe the people who voted for them, are depending on them. What’s the message for them? When the going gets tough, you can always go back to Indiana . . .

The sad part is that Bayh is a moderate Democrat who was among the few trying to move the nation toward the center on many issues. Instead, he appears to be willing to abandon Washington to the partisan extremes.

Columnists and other pundits seem preoccupied with what Bayh is saying about his departure. But, for me, his inaction speaks louder than words.

As I told my kids at breakfast yesterday morning as I pointed to his picture in the newspaper, here’s the message: “Don’t be like him some day.”

– Paul Gullixson