Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dodd’s Prospects, The Coming Kakistocracy

There appears to be a lot of chatter among conservatives concerning Sen. Chris Dodd’s prospects for re-election. Most of them want a badly wounded Dodd to run for re-election. Independent voters, many of whom in Connecticut may be disgruntled Democrats, do not appear to be enchanted with Dodd’s re-election.

Among what is amusingly thought of as the Democratic “base,” there are many activist bloggers who rather hope Dodd will see the light and step aside so that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, their designated replacement, may fill the senator’s large shoes, thus preserving the seat for those who frequently visit such sites as MyLeftNutmeg, a leftist commentariate watering hole. Dodd has made strenuous efforts to get on the right side of the left-most corner of the Democratic political barracks through targeted video opportunities.

What are his prospects for re-election? Certainly they are not as bright as they were several years ago, when Republicans in the state were scouring the countryside to find a sacrificial lamb to run against Dodd.

No fewer than four Republicans now have thrown their hats in the ring. Former state Rep. Rob Simmons, who lost his seat to present Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney by a handful of uncontested votes, is panting at the starting line, as are Sam Caliguiri, a state Rep. and Waterbury’s Republican deliverer; Peter Schiff a prescient economist and Ron Paul acolyte who predicted the recession now upon us; and World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, whose pockets are so deep she may be able to self-finance her entire campaign. The riff against McMahon and Shiff is that they are indifferent Republicans, drawn into the fray by Dodd’s Gibraltar sized Achilles heel.

Recently, Dodd was given a pep pill by the senate ethics committee, which found that their colleague received no extraordinary benefits from Countrywide’s CEO Angelo Mozilo.

But, according to a recent the Wall Street Journal article: “The discovery that Countrywide Financial Corp. recorded phone conversations with borrowers in a controversial mortgage program that included public officials -- and that those recordings have been destroyed -- has prompted new congressional calls for more information about the program.”

And Michael Moore a winner of the prestigious Palm D'Or award at the Cannes film festival for best documentary, is breathing down Dodd’s neck in his soon to be released philippic against capitalism. Moore’s new film “Capitalism, A Love Story,” includes an interview with Robert Feinberg, the middle man between the Countrywide CEO Mozillo and Dodd, a designated “Friend of Angelo.”

It’s rather lucky for Dodd that the tapes have been destroyed. And we all thought Rose Mary Woods, the super-efficient secretary to former President Richard Nixon who “accidentally” erased part of an incriminating tape during the Watergate imbroglio, was dead. In the beltway, her soul goes marching on.

Add to all this the alluring Blumenthal, whose record as attorney general has not been closely examined by an enraptured media, and you have a possible upset in the making.

Dodd, over the past few months, has been attempting to repair the yawning breech between himself and Connecticut voters by courting the far left in his party and throwing succulent bone after bone to a general public that, like Moore, revels in the well deserved public whippings of morally deracinated CEOs.

Blumenthal does this sort of thing with more panache than Dodd, but Dodd is fast appropriating Blumenthal’s successful methodology: Set up a straw demon – gluttonous insurance executives will do very well, thank you – and use your resources in the media to demonize them. Do not fear that the public whippings will drive the louts from your door. Just the opposite: Beaten and over-regulated CEOs will happily contribute to your campaign for the pleasure of a seat at the regulation table. Like gluttonous congressmen, the CEOs of businesses too big to fail are on good terms with regulation, because it helps them to drive out of business the sort of blue collar people that Dodd and Moore and Blumenthal daily weep over, while at the same time hauling in the cash.

Someday, the media will figure the whole thing out. But that threatining eventuality lies far in the future. In the meanwhile, what used to be called a “politically virtuous” public is in retreat. Political virtue, as had been pointed out numberless times, is a principle of action, fatally compromised when a putative omni-competent government makes people irresponsible by arrogating all responsibility to itself.

The richer the government, the poorer the people; the more competent the government, the more incompetent the people. Karl Marx, who used to write for the New York Daily Tribune, understood the principle involved. A bad economist but a prescient sociologist and a masterful journalist, he was not wrong about the relationship between government and the people. Fascism and the kind of communism practiced by Lenin and Stalin was a form of monarchism from below – a kakistocracy, which is "rule by the worst" -- as in Venezuela, now under the thumb of Hugo Chavez, Michael Moore’s beau ideal of a statesman.
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