Thursday, January 11, 2007

The “Ifs Ands And Buts” Of Dodd’s Presidential Campaign

This is no joke. US Sen. Chris Dodd announced his bid for the White House, according to a report in the Hartford Courant, “on the Don Imus radio show.”

Dodd's Connecticut campaign will feature the ubiquitous Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as his state chairman, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, once Dodd’s Chief of Staff, will serve as the senator’s national co-chairman – further proof, if any were necessary, that incumbent politicians now have become petite political parties.

Is it not possible to recruit the state Democrat Party chairman to serve in the role assigned to Blumenthal, who certainly is not in need of further press coverage?

Dodd, who has about $5 million in his campaign kitty, is on the campaign road to Iowa and South Carolina. One way to win political support in such important campaign states is to purchase it, and $5 million will come in handy for this purpose. The Journal Inquirer of Manchester earlier reported that Dodd has spread his largess around in local races both in New Hampshire and Iowa.

The Courant report indicates that “Dodd will stress his 32 years in Congress, including long stints on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - and his detailed knowledge of Latin America…”

The reddening of Latin America, a part of the world that historically has tended to swing like a pendulum between half hearted experiments in capitalism and a ruddy socialism, has been much commented upon by the media, but Dodd, known as an expert in the area, has been silent on the Castroization of Venezuela, Bolivia and, most recently, Nicaragua.

Dodd’s constituents – if they do not write for the Courant -- may recall his many trips to the area during the Sandinista/Contra hot war. No reporters were present to make a record of their discussions during Dodd’s secret negotiations with then communist leaders in Nicaragua; and recently, when Dodd and former Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts had a tête-à-tête, with Syria’s leader, Hezbollah's facilitator Bashar Assad, there were no reportorial embeds present to make a record of their negotiations.

Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, deposed by force of arms and a muscular diplomacy, recently won the presidency in a democratic election. Ortega campaigned as a born again Catholic who had managed to escape the gravitational pull of communism, but some not-born-yesterday observers of Latin America doubt his new bona fides and suspect Ortega and his brother will, on achieving power, slip into the usual Latin America rut of denouncing the United States and nationalizing the means of production; Hugo Chavez has just announced he indends to nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry, and a free press is next on the dictator's execution block.

Some Connecticut wits think that Ortega surrendered all hope of Dodd’s approval when during his campaign he embraced the views of the pope on abortion rather than those of more enlightened Catholics such as Rosa DeLauro and former pal Chris Dodd.

Dodd, the Courant report adds, will be touting himself during his presidential campaign "as someone who can work across party and philosophical to get things done. He likes to tell audiences how he has worked with conservative senators over the years to win passage of social legislation, and how he has supported Republican presidents' nominees except in the most extreme circumstances."

In view of Dodd's unprincipled opposition to John Bolton as US delegate to the United Nations, that posture, as someone once said about a pretzel-like position in the Karma Sutra, is ridiculous.

Bolton’s success or failure as a UN delegate cannot be determined without knowing what part he and the Bush administration played behind the scenes in convincing third parties such as China to curb the ambitions of the “Dear Leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Il. It is at least possible that the United States is pursuing a similar course with Syria and Iran. Saudi Arabia and Egypt would be more effective than the United States in persuading these two countries to stop harboring terrorists and supplying groups like Hezbollah with munitions and money.

If such back-door negotiations are in process, private negotiations between senators and the heads of Syria and Iran would be counterproductive and destructive.

7 comments:

bluecoat said...

Senators don't negotiate with foreign leaders, period! They conduct discussions. Only the executive branch can negotiate.

And I see Bush didn't take his uncle's suggestion to engage Syrua and Iran; rather he's taking steps to cut them off and isolate them. Seems like a bad move to me.

Don Pesci said...

“No reporters were present during Dodd’s secret negotiations with then communist leaders in Nicaragua to make a record of his negotiations; and recently, when Dodd and former Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts had a tête-à-tête, with Syria’s leader, Hamas facilitator Bashar Assad, there were no reportorial embeds present to make a record of their negotiations.”

The word “negotiation” in its broadest sense means “doing business.” It comes from the word negōtiātiō, which means “a doing of business.” I obviously am not using the word in its ambassadorial sense, since neither Dodd nor Kerry were delegated by the president to carry out official US policy. In fact, pleas were made by the state department to both not to visit Assad. When you and I talk with each other, we are having a discussion. When two politicians are talking with each other, they are doing business. When Kerry met with representatives of the Viet Cong in Paris during the Vietnam war, he was negotiating with them. Only lately, when official papers became available, did we discover the nature of the negotiations. The ambiguity of the word perfectly captures the nature of their “discussion” with Assad, and I chose it for ironic and poetic reasons – to capture that ambiguity. Let me ask you a question: If there is no record of the discussions, how do you know they were not secret negotiations, Dodd and Kerry representing the political interests of the Democrat Party?

Don Pesci said...

"And I see Bush didn't take his uncle's suggestion to engage Syrua and Iran; rather he's taking steps to cut them off and isolate them. Seems like a bad move to me."

There are strong suggestions that the Bush administration is engaging both Syria and Iran through third parties, and apparently they are having some success. That is probably why the state department did not want Dodd and Kerry to negotiate with Assad; their discussions might disturb back-door negotiations with parties that could put pressure on Syria and Iran. There was a report about all this in the Washington Times.

Pam said...

Dodd's chutzpah, now and then, is simply breathtaking. However, I see his candidacy as a sideshow. I doubt very much that he will win the nomination (although stranger things have happened). Excellent writeup!

bluecoat said...

Negotiations in my world mean discussions on the way to some kind of agreement btween two or more parties. While senators can agree on issues with heads of state they can't enter into agreements. Therefor, I don't see the use of the term negotiations as proper in you context - but it's a free country.:)

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

Under your definition, the Logan Act would make no sense. Logan, remember, was a US Representative at the time the law was passed. It was revised in the 1990's.

The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994.[1]

Passed under the administration of President John Adams during tension between the U.S. and France, it was named for Dr. George Logan of Pennsylvania, who engaged in semi-negotiations with France during the Quasi-War.

§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

Don Pesci said...

Correction: Logan was a member of the state house of representative from PA.

According to his brief US Congressional bio, Logan served in the state house from “1785-1789, 1795-1796, and 1799. (He) went to France in 1798 (as a private citizen) to treat unofficially for a better understanding between the two Governments, which action was subsequently responsible for the passage of the so-called Logan Act in 1799, prohibiting a private citizen from undertaking diplomatic negotiations; appointed and subsequently elected as a Democratic Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John Peter G. Muhlenberg and served from July 13, 1801, to March 3, 1807; declined to be a candidate for reelection; despite the Logan Act, went to England in 1810 on a private diplomatic mission as an emissary of peace, but was not successful; published several agricultural pamphlets; died at ‘Stenton,’ near Philadelphia, Pa., April 9, 1821; interment in the Logan Graveyard in Stenton Park, Philadelphia, Pa.”