On the political stump in Dover, New Hampshire, US Sen. Chris Dodd , running for the presidency, declined to give a stump speech and instead took questions from the crowd.
Concerning President Bush’s terms in office, Dodd said, “"We've been on six years of on-the-job training and look where we are." And later he asked rhetorically, “How are we losing a public relations battle with Hugo Chavez?"
Dodd gave no hint to the largely admiring crowd what he would do as president to win the public relations battle with Venezuela’s increasingly leftist dictator. Following a path well worn by the ailing Fidel Castro, Chavez recently warned his opposition in Venezuela that he plans to nationalize the oil industry. While Bush slept, Daniel Ortega, running on a non-progressive pro-Catholic platform, became president of Nicaragua. As previously noted here and elsewhere, Dodd has had valuable experience negotiating with the Ortega brothers in that war swept country.
When a voter asked Dodd whether he'd support a resolution that would cut off funding for American troops in Iraq, the senator tripped lightly over the question and said he would cap the number of American troops in the Middle East. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Dodd’s progressive comrade in Massachusetts, is fashioning a bill that would cut off funding to the troops at war in the Middle East.
Another inquiring mind asked what Dodd would do to stop the Bush administration from starting a war in Iran. The senator said he would introduce legislation capping the number of American troops, which would be more effective that non-binding resolutions, but far less immediatley effective than Kennedy’s plan.
If Bush wants to start a war in Iran, Dodd told the crowd, he should ask Congress first.
And not only Congress. Given the current climate of opinion on the home front, it would be unlikely for the United States to conduct a war anywhere in the world, whatever the provocation, without bringing on board Dodd, the New York Times’ editorial board, the United Nations, Sen. Kennedy and Jane Fonda who, along with Hollywood twinkler Sean Penn, attended her first post Vietnam War Washington DC peace rally on Saturday.
"I'm so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War," Fonda said
Bush had denied military designs against Iran, whose charming president has declared numerous times his intention to obliterate Israel, possibly with nuclear weapons. Israel, unwilling to go gentle into that good nuclear night, has hinted at nuclear reprisal. No one in New Hampshire asked Dodd whether these unfortunate disagreements might be settled through diplomacy or, Henry Kissinger being indisposed, who Dodd would suggest sending to Iran to persuade President Ahmadinejad to redact his last 30 speeches on the subject of Israel. Dodd’s brother, The Concord Monitor mentioned, had been a diplomat. Under a Dodd presidency, he would no doubt be available.
The Monitor reported, “’We Democrats cannot continue to be part of the chorus that says diplomacy is a sign of weakness,’ said Dodd, whose brother was a diplomat and whose father was a prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials.”
There is a grain of truth to Dodd’s insistence that diplomacy is an invaluable tool in the art of statecraft, but opening negotiations with belligerents – especially terrorists – after a war has commenced certainly is a sign of weakness, if not a sign of surrender. We prosecuted Nazi generals at Nuremberg only after we had achieved victory in World War II. Neville Chamberlain, the conservative Prime Minister of England, negotiated with Hitler before he was defeated – to no purpose. Those negotiations were widely viewed, correctly by Hitler and others, as a sign of weakness.
On a humorous note, the Monitor noted, “Ken Roos, an officer for the State Employees Association, asked Dodd in Hooksett what he would say in his inaugural speech in 2009.
"’I'm tired of small-bore politics, where you deal only at the edges," Dodd said.
“He said he would push to end America's dependence on foreign oil, improve public schools and cut health care costs. He said that if he was elected, he would ask former vice president Al Gore be the "global representative on global warming," and former president Bill Clinton to spend a year in Middle East.
“Then Dodd said that Roos could spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Roos said he was impressed with Dodd's ‘depth.’”
A good time was had by all.