What is Chris Dodd thinking now?
Mr. Dodd has mastered the art of honing a message to suit his needs.
As noted by National Public Radio (NPR) on July 18, 2009, a “recent Web ad from Sen. Chris Dodd's re-election team suggests that the Connecticut Democrat is sticking it to Washington lobbyists. Dodd's actions suggest a different story.” (Emphasis added.)
NPR had, a few days earlier, reported on a story that illustrated this conflict. That story told of the busy day Mr. Dodd had on June 17th. It was a day filled with the nation’s most urgent business—health care reform, financial services reform—and yet, Senator Dodd managed to squeeze in lunch with a room full of lobbyists. “The fundraiser was a $1,500-a-plate luncheon, hosted by two lobbyists, with proceeds going to support Dodd's re-election campaign.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=106396849
In a Roll Call article on July 8, 2009, Washington, D.C. lobbyist Rich Tarplin was quoted as saying about Dodd, “People on K Street view him as someone who’s always willing to listen….He doesn’t always agree with what you say. He makes his own judgment. But people appreciate that he will look you in the eye and hear what you have to say.” http://www.rollcall.com/issues/55_3/...inter_friendly
However, an observation regarding the Democratic Tarplin (who owns a health care lobbying shop): he may not offer the most objective opinion. He worked for Dodd for eight years; he was the Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services for the second half of the Clinton Administration; and is one-half of a D.C. health care lobbying power couple. Mr. Tarplin, in the style of Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Mary Matlin, is married to a Republican lobbyist, Linda, who also had had a lengthy career lobbying on behalf of health care companies and is a co-founder of another health care lobbying firm. The couple’s reported combined campaign contributions, in 2008 alone, equaled more than $130,000. http://www.campaignmoney.com/politic...n.asp?cycle=08
Christopher Keating of The Hartford Courant commented in March, 2009, on some of the contradictions in Mr. Dodd’s actions. “One thing Dodd has done of late is tack hard to populism.” http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_wat...hris-dodd.html Mr. Keating discussed a number of the items that have also been reviewed in this column http://www.examiner.com/x-10548-Hart...tor-Chris-Dodd. “These days being chairman [of the Senate Banking Committee] serves only to remind voters of his own problems with Countrywide and, fairly or not, makes Dodd the face of two deeply unpopular bailouts of Wall Street and an only slightly less unpopular stimulus plan. All of which may explain why Dodd is spending so much more time on the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pension] Committee these days....”
In an expose by Suzy Khimm in the June 3, 2009 issue of The New Republic magazine entitled “Dodd Complex”, the author pointed out the study in contradiction that seems to be the senior senator from Connecticut. “The source of Dodd’s problem is simple: He has become a symbol of Wall Street’s grip on the federal government.” Yet she also states, about his roots, “Upon entering the Senate, Dodd set his own course as a legislator…as he firmly aligned himself with the progressive wing of the [Democratic] party. As early as 1983, the right-wing publication Human Events called his political career an ‘odyssey from liberalism to far left.’” www.tnr.com
Ms. Khimm goes on to recount bits from the career of Senator Dodd’s father, Thomas J. Dodd, who had served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1952-1957, then in the Senate from 1958 until his unceremonious ousting in 1966, when he was accused of abusing political contributions and accepting perks. The senior Dodd ran for reelection as an Independent after the Democratic party refused to endorse him for the ticket following his censure in the Senate; he won just 25 percent of the voters, and died of a heart attack six months later.
“…the younger Dodd always regarded the entire episode as deeply unjust. But that didn’t stop him from seeking to return to the place that had destroyed his father.” Return he did, winning a House seat in 1974 where he remained until winning his bid for the Senate in 1980.
We now come to 2009, and the fight of veteran politician Chris Dodd’s political life.
Following his 2007 move to Iowa in advance of the first-in-the-nation Presidential caucus held there—he relocated his family there for a year, going as far as enrolling one of his daughters in kindergarten in the Des Moines, Iowa public school system—the voters of Connecticut have one more reason to question his loyalty to them. After his failed Presidential bid (he did not even win “enough votes for a single delegate” in Iowa) http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/wash...ideo-here.html and the numerous controversies he has been involved in, he is considered the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the U.S. Senate. He may not retain the seat he has held for four terms.
So, the campaigning has begun early. Not even having a declared opponent to run against, Mr. Dodd seems to just be running. His choice of Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as the star of his some of his recent campaign ads might be interesting, were it not so obvious. http://chrisdodd.com/action/newads In an effort to visibly go back to his earlier persona as a maverick, Mr. Dodd is demonstrating his defiance toward the Washington establishment by having the iconic, modern-day “liberal lion” tout his bona fides. http://www.courant.com/news/nation-w...,7400022.story
The ailing Mr. Kennedy has entrusted the committee he chairs—the Senate HELP Committee—to Senator Dodd. The current task looming before the HELP Committee is passage of a huge overhaul to this country’s health care system. While entrusting this to Senator Dodd may serve him well during his tough re-election bid, it begs a question of enormous significance. Can the same man adequately accomplish this task while also serving as the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which is directly responsible for legislating any number of the changes essential to the economic health of America? Moreover, what has he done for Connecticut lately?