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Dodd’s Little Ease: It's The War Stupid

Connecticut’s Sen. Chris Dodd is a liberal; or, as liberals like to style themselves these days, a progressive. So, naturally, conservatives in and out of the senate tend to rejoice at his absence from the chamber, increased these last few months by his quixotic pursuit of the presidency.

Dodd’s ratio of missed votes compare favorably to other Democrat presidential wannabes. Hillary Clinton has missed 18% of senate votes because she is able to avail herself of private aircraft to speed her back and forth from the capital; Barack Obama missed 34%; Joe Biden missed 35% and Dodd 34%.

According to Project Vote Smart, an organization that tracks votes important to Dodd’s clamorous progressive supporters on various blog sites, the senator missed 75% of “key votes” last month and 100% by the end of November.

Now comes a page one story in the Hartford Courant written by Rinker Buck, the paper’s designated funeral director, to drive the last few nails into Dodd’s coffin.

Buck points to a Quinnipiac University poll that shows 68% of registered Democrats want Dodd to run up the white flag and bring himself home; his private quest for the presidency, if polls are any measure, is not going as well as General David Petraeus’ war in Iraq.

Mat Stoller, a progressive at, part of the vast left wing conspiracy to breathe life into Dodd’s presidential corpse, thinks that the senator “has been the most effective senator because he’s using his senate work to drive the presidential debate.”

It’s hard to know where to begin in deconstructing this cloying progressive fantasy.

There is no presidential debate, nor will there be one until the Democrat presidential candidate selected by a party convention – almost certainly not Dodd – meets the yet to be decided Republican presidential candidate on the field of battle. Primary “debates” are little more than glorified press conferences; which, come to think of it, may be why the mainstream media covers these Democrat and Republican sleep sessions in such soporific detail.

Stoller's line of argument leads not to the White House, but to the senate. Archimedes once said, "Give me a place outside the world where I could set my fulcrum, and I can move the world." If Dodd, like Archimedes, can move the political universe by setting the point of his fulcrum in the senate, he should, like the aging and increasingly irrelevant Sen. Edward Kennedy, remain there.

Dodd’s chances of rising to the top of the greasy presidential pole are remote. That being the case, Dodd may not find himself debating the Republican presidential designate at all.

Tom Swan, the director of Connecticut’s Citizen Action Group, another hollering from the roof top progressive organization and Ned Lamont’s former campaign chairman, has detected a merging “of Dodd's priorities as a presidential candidate and a Senate committee chairman. If Dodd can pass in the senate reform legislation that, in Buck’s words, “outlaw the kind of predatory lending that led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis,” he may be able to claim with some justice on the campaign trail that “he's a leader who can work with Republicans and fashion successful legislation.”

Fashioning compromises is part of the normal business of a senator who is expected to move legislation in the chamber. This should not be too difficult a task in the case of sub-prime lending reform since Republicans, despite intimations to the contrary in news stories, do not want to let incompetent or crooked lenders force people from their homes.

The major disagreement between Dodd and the Republicans concerns their approach to jihadism. Events in the Middle East have a direction and momentum of their own. If the thus far winning strategy of General David Petraeus falls apart like a house of cards, Dodd’s attempt to remove American forces from the area by March will seem statesmanlike. If the military success continues and a fugitive peace settles upon the Mideast, Dodd's success in passing sub-prime lending reform will not convince the American public that he has not done all in his power to obstruct the war.


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