Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Dodd Will Not Resign, And Why Blumenthal Will Not Run Against Him

There has been some jockeying among Republicans in the U.S. Senate race. Sam Caliguiri has shifted his campaign from U.S. Senator to U.S. Rep, which leaves U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd to the tender mercies of the three remaining Republicans in the race: former CEO of World Wide Wrestling Linda McMahon, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Peter Schiff, a libertarian economist. Former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley is deciding whether he would rather be governor than senator.

On the left side of the Democratic barracks, some progressives are dissatisfied with Dodd, though the senator has move very far to the left to placate them. Dodd’s “good,” however, is not good enough to satisfy unappeasable progressives. There is a palpable anguish in the progressive camp, much of it turning upon the dread suspicion that Dodd, should he remain in the race, will lose his seat to a Republican. The senator’s polling negatives are dangerously low. Therefore, it is being urged by some progressives that Dodd should quit the race, leaving the senatorial position opened for the perennial favorite of the Democratic left, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

There is an assumption involved here that has not been closely examined: first, that Dodd, however precarious his polling negatives a year before the election, will quit the race; second, that Blumenthal will accept a draft from his party.

It’s doubtful Dodd will quit the race. Faced with the charge he is in the pay of wealthy campaign contributors, Dodd has sought to defang his opposition by capturing them and pressing them to his bosom in what yet may turn out to be a fatal embrace. By his enthusiastic support of President Barack Obama’s plan to over-regulate pretty much everything in the Unites States, not excepting the air we breathe, Dodd has pretty much hoisted his middle finger to the much despised captains of industry in the country.

Dodd’s father was forced out of office on charges that he turned$116,000 in campaign contributions to his own use. But that is only the surface of the story. The son is no chip off his father’s much more conservative block. Dodd senior was a rigorous anti-communist at a time when softies in the mainstream media – does anyone remember the mainstream media? – were collectivity doubting that Alger Hiss was a commie and a spy. Tom Dodd's enemies on the left were happy to see him caught in the brambles, and Jack Anderson did not mourn his passing. The chief lesson his son learned from all this was to so conduct his public life that the same fate would never befall him.

At the time of the dedication of the Thomas Dodd Center during the Bill Clinton administration, a reporter for the New York Times noted some piquant asymmetries:

“With the help of Mr. Dodd's sons, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the current general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Thomas J. Dodd Jr., the United States Ambassador to Uruguay, Mr. Clinton dedicated the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, a new library at the University of Connecticut here…

"The festivities were a gentle coda to the tempestuous life of the elder Dodd, an old-fashioned Irish politician who mixed passionate anti-Communism with fervent early support for liberal domestic causes like civil rights and gun control, but whose career petered out in disgrace and defeat after his censure in 1967 for diverting about $116,000 in campaign funds to his personal use.

“By Mr. Clinton's own college days in the 1960's, Mr. Dodd stood as a symbol of hawkish stolidity on the Vietnam War, immortalized in Phil Ochs's protest anthem, ‘The Draft Dodger Rag,’ whose ironic verse begins: ‘I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American town/I believe in God and Senator Dodd and keepin' old Castro down…’

“In fact, as a Yale Law School student in 1970, Mr. Clinton was a campaign worker for the insurgent candidate, Joseph D. Duffey, who had wrested the Democratic nomination from Mr. Dodd, who then ran as an independent, splitting the vote and opening the way for the election of the Republican, Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Mr. Duffey now works for Mr. Clinton as director of the United States Information Agency.”
For the younger Dodd during his career, strident anti-communism was out, and fraternizing with the enemy was in: Dodd and Weicker, also a strident pro Vietnam War anti-communist at the beginning of his political career, were close friends.

The arc of the younger Dodd’s political life, in many ways, bends in a direction opposite to that of his father, rather as if Dodd the younger were determined that what had happed to Dad would never happen to him.

And now – under an indictment from the left, not the right, that the younger Dodd has been corrupted by campaign contributions – Chris Dodd is expected to go, as his father had done, quiet into that good night.

This will not happen.

And Blumenthal will not likely wage a battle against Dodd.

That battle would be too precarious for the glass-jawed Blumenthal. And the attorney general is not yet willing to leave the skeletons in his office behind him to pursue other public opportunities – unless he could designate his successor.
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