Thursday, January 07, 2010

Taking One for the Team


Dodd isn’t pure—none of ‘em are—but he was a pretty good, pretty liberal Senator for a very long time. I’ve lost touch with the details of politics in CT since I left for college a long-ass time ago, but Dodd, to me, gave CT plenty of reasons to be proud: He's got a pretty long list of accomplishments to his credit, including authoring the Family and Medical Leave Act.

As for his downfall—as I said, I don’t follow CT too closely—all this talk in liberal blog-circles of his seat being a lost cause and he better get out, etc, had me flummoxed. I knew about the mortgage fiasco, but Dodd was cleared of any wrongdoing, and it was really pretty weak shit. All of the dirt being thrown on his political casket had me assuming another, much heavier shoe had dropped to finish him as a viable politician, especially for a previously popular 5-term incumbent.

It really seems like a pretty stand-up guy (again, for a Senator) was undone by a media hyperfocus on an overblown scandal. That’s a shame, because much shittier senators have survived far worse.

And the real kick in the pants with this? Dodd backing out now means Blumenthal runs in 2010 instead of against Lieberman in 2012. It always seems to work out for that miserable p.o.s.

UPDATE: I don't mean to absolve Dodd completely like some kind of brain-dead GOP bootlicker. He was completely cleared of any wrongdoing, but I don't think that equals innocence. I think much of what went down with him at the end was symptomatic of being too close to the people he should have maintained a clear distance from. Did he get better-than-average mortgage terms? Sure. SO DID I. It’s called good credit, high income and being a longtime customer.

But if you are the Chair of the Banking Committee, you don't get any leeway to plead ignorance or uncertainty in matters financial—you keep your shit square and way above board. Failing to do that—or worse, failing to realize what you are doing looks wrong even if technically okay—means you've lost perspective, and it's time to step aside.

25 comments:

Toast said...

Failing to do that—or worse, failing to realize what you are doing looks wrong even if technically okay—means you've lost perspective, and it's time to step aside.

Disagree. You don't end a career like his over penny-ante crap like that. A mild mea culpa and a promise to smarten up should have been more than enough, especially given the lax standards applied to so many others in his position.

Smitty said...

What worries me most is that Dodd sees some writing on a wall I don't quite see yet (or I see and am just overlooking) and wants to be no part of it.

Good news for Republicans.

Bob said...

Dude-

In your last post you supported the return of the Glass-Steagall Act. Wasn't Dodd the guy who either sponsored or pushed through the repeal as chair of the committee?

Your post reads like my defense of Stabenow over at ATK. Stabenow also had a questionable vote on the bankruptcy bill a few years back. Maybe we are both forgetting the transgressions of Democratic politicians.

steves said...

I don't mean to absolve Dodd completely like some kind of brain-dead GOP bootlicker.

I would never call you brain dead, but that kind of blind faith is certainly not exclusive to the GOP. Some bloggers that I still mostly respect are completely incapable of even minor criticism of Obama and just say that he knows what he is doing and that we just have to trust him.

I honestly don't know enough about Dodd to make a fair assessment of him.

Toast said...

Bob: The Bill you are referring to is the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act (aka the Financial Services Modernization act) and no, Dodd was not the bill's sponsor; that was the execrable Phil Gramm. Dodd eventually voted for the final bill, but since it passed the Senate 90-8 one can hardly point a finger at him.

What's important to note is that Dodd was one of the first to realize what a mistake the bill was and has been one of the loudest proponents of restoring the protections of Glass-Steagall, and in general he's been ahead of his fellow Dems in advocating for a crack-down on Wall Street. However, he did get a good interest rate on his mortgage, so I can see where none of that would matter to some people.

Toast said...

Smitty: No, it's bad news for Republicans. Dodd was polling behind all the major GOP candidates for his seat here in CT. His would-be successor, AG Richard Blumenthal, polls 30 points ahead of those same contenders in a Quinnipiac poll that just came out. As someone who lives in Connecticut, I can attest to Blumenthal's widespread popularity (he even gets a slight "favorable" edge from state Republicans). Trust me when I say he can confidently start measuring the drapes in Dodd's DC office.

Toast said...

Steves:

Some bloggers that I still mostly respect are completely incapable of even minor criticism of Obama and just say that he knows what he is doing and that we just have to trust him.

Such as...?

Mr Furious said...

No, Dodd was not a sponsor or primary backer of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999—not according to what I can read about it now. I'd be lying if I told you I paid this kind of attention to that stuff then.

He voted AGAINST the original Senate bill, and FOR the final bill out of conference—presumably because of the beefing up of the Community Reinvestment Act. The final vote was 90-8. So blame for Dodd has to be shared pretty much across the board.

I'll grant you that he probably was in a position to know better—but when the vote is going to be a landslide, he (or anyone else) will probably cover their bets with contributors.

I do give Byron Dorgan mad props for his stance on the issue at the time.

Mr Furious said...

Off the top of my head:

>>Dodd voted against the Bankruptcy Bill—which couldn't have made the banking industry happy.

>>Dodd inserted the bonus and salary restrictions into the bailout package (which were later gutted at the White House's behest)—which, again, coundn't have endeared hime with his supposed benefactors.

Dodd HAS been clawing back against the G-S repeal, and by all accounts has authored a surprisingly rigorous new regulatory structure.

My big hope out of this is that: freed from the need to cater to campaign $$$, Dodd can stay strong in the face of the pushback that will get.

Mr Furious said...

Let me add this: Dodd (and Lieberman) ARE the Senators from Connecticut—a major center for the nation's banking and insurance industries. And for that, a certain degree of latitude should be afforded on those matters since votes that might be anathema to a liberal across the country somewhere, very well may be in the best interests of THEIR CONSTITUENTS.

Much as Levin and Stabenow and Dingell and others screw with perfectly good trade or climate legislation to benefit the auto industry.

Or Biden with the execrable Bankruptcy Bill—he WAS the Senator from Delaware.

--

My biggest problem with Stabenow isn't he crossing the party on climate stuff, it's her votes on issues that seem to have no relation to Michigan's interests and fly in the face of the party platform—such as the bankruptcy bill, and the torture thing a couple years back.

Toast said...

Here's the poll pitting Blumenthal (and Dodd) against the GOP CT candidates. It's not even close for our beloved AG.

Mr Furious said...

Toast, going back to your first comment...

Bullshit. If this were Ted Stevens or Mitch McConnell, you'd likely be flying off the handle. Dodd didn't violate the letter of the law, but he sure seems to have pushed up against the spirit of it.

The mortgage thing was crap—I agree. But it seemed to reveal a pattern I would call...troubling.

Some of Dodd's answers on these issues don't cut it with me. He should know better.

As I said, he's been a good enough advocate that he shouldn't be run out of office prematurely (ie: mid-term) but he should answer for this stuff and a "mild" mea culpa isn't good enough. And he was already plenty "smart" enough.

A serious coming clean and visible effort to counteract any impropriety and working hard to undo any questionable legislation is required.

And then he should still be at the mercy of the voters.

--

Now, the fact that voters in Connecticut are fucking stupid enough to support Lieberman and toss Dodd? That's a separate problem. But I don't give Dodd or any Democrat a pass they don't deserve because of it.

Truth be told, I think all of this panic about Dodd losing his seat is overblown—I think he would have held it. It's fucking January fer crissakes and he was down against hypothetical opponents.

The media was dancing on his grave because he's a Democrat.

Mr Furious said...

Agree. Blumenthal will romp, and Dodd may have struggled, but Blumenthal would have rolled Lieberman in 2012—something I would have relished.

Here's hoping Lieberman continues to burn bridges and young Dems like Murphy rise to the challenge.

Toast said...

Bullshit. If this were Ted Stevens or Mitch McConnell, you'd likely be flying off the handle. Dodd didn't violate the letter of the law, but he sure seems to have pushed up against the spirit of it.

Stevens was convicted by jury on seven counts of making false statements, and the related transgressions far outstripped anything Dodd ever dreamed of doing. He was corrupt to the core, and a scumbag to boot. There is no comparison.

Further, I am not a fucking hypocrite who changes his tune when someone on "my team" is under attack, and I resent you claiming otherwise.

Smitty said...

Toast:

Smitty: No, it's bad news for Republicans.

Oh, I agree with you absolutely. I was actually snarking a la John Cole at Balloon Juice, whereby when he says something is good for Republicans, he means it's not. It hails back to the 08 elections, where everything, even horribly bad stuff, was spun by the Rs as good for the Rs.

Mr Furious said...

Settle down Toast. Nobody called you a hypocrite.

Invoking Stevens was certainly hyperbole, and not—as you said—really a fair comparison.

But I think it fair to assume that the same types of statements and excuses that we heard from Dodd would be viewed with heavy skepticism by any of us if coming from a Republican.

I know Dodd is a good Senator. I also know he is YOUR Senator. that means you certainly know more specifics than me, but might also have a bit of a sentimental hurdle.

I think it's clear Dodd crossed a line here and there. Not with the mortgage necessarily, and that's what started all of this, but I can't give him an all-clear.

The fact that Dodd himself is choosing not run indicates to me that he reads the writing on the wall regarding his chances better than us, or maybe there's more we don't know.

Either way, I think it's a sucky way for his fine career to end, but maybe—just maybe—he actually DID fly a little closes to the sun for a while there.

When I said it's time to step aside, I realize I am setting an impossibly high bar for people, but if you're chairing the Banking Committee—you really need to keep your finances in order and above board, and be able to answer for your decisions. Dodd didn't. And he is making the selfless decision to benefit his constituents and the country instead of himself.

The purpose of my post was to praise THAT, while not being a whitewash. My comments simply reiterate that.

steves said...

such as

John Scalzi, one of my favorite authors, who has a very popular blog called Whatever.

steves said...

BTW, I didn't mean anyone here was incapable of criticism. I have heard plenty of intelligent comments regarding Obama policy from posters here and at ATK.

steves said...

The media was dancing on his grave because he's a Democrat.

I doubt that. The media would be doing the same thing if he were in the GOP. They love any kind of scandal and potential scandal.

I don't think your standards are too high and I wished more voters cared about stuff like this.

Mr Furious said...

steves, your blind spot is showing...

Scan the headlines today, and you'd think it was the day after Election Day and the Democrats lost both chambers.

Twice as many Republican Senators are resigning as Democrats, and 50% more House Reps. The GOP is defending more seats in both houses and Dodd's stepping aside, if anything strengthens the Democrats position.

But the media meme is "Democrats Dropping Like Flies" or "Running Scared" or some shit.

Do you see John Ensign's political obituary anywhere?

Bob said...

Mr. F and Toast-

So it seems I may have bought into the liberal line that Dodd was a tool of the Banks?

"Scan the headlines today, and you'd think it was the day after Election Day and the Democrats lost both chambers.

Twice as many Republican Senators are resigning as Democrats, and 50% more House Reps. "


I totally agree. R's are retiring in droves.

Bob said...

...and Waxman is still an ass.

(I just threw that out there for the fight.)

steves said...

Do you see John Ensign's political obituary anywhere?

Here...here...here.

Yep, the Republicans are getting a pass on this one. There have been hundreds of articles about how they are hurting. The media would rather poke a stick at the party in power than a party that has little power. If the situation were reversed, then I would think the coverage may be different.

Another factor is that Dodd and Dorgan have a fair amount of seniority and are more well known that any of the Republicans resigning. Considering that the Dems control the Executive and Legislative branches with a comfortable majority, any high profile resignation by a Democrat is news. Add to this, that many think they could lose between 20 and 25 seats in the House.

DED said...

I realize that I'm late to the conversation, but if anyone is still paying attention....

In '08, I took part in a Telephone Town Hall sponsored by the Repub challenger, David Cappiello (a former State Senator), to Chris Murphy (my Congressman). If you've never been in one of these, everyone listens in as the sponsor answers questions that people voice mail in while on the call.

For the time that I listened in, several angry people mentioned how much they wanted Dodd gone. While some mentioned the Mortgage Incident, most believed that he was doing nothing while banks were collapsing and taking the rest of the economy with them.

To his credit, Cappiello didn't join in on the Dodd bashing (at least not while I listened in). He merely agreed that there was a definite need for change in Washington.

I believe that the perception among many in CT is that Dodd has been in DC too long and is too cozy with Wall Street. These people feel that he dropped the ball when he spent all that time courting Iowans for a Don Quixote-like run for president when he should've been scrutinizing the banking industry. And all of the campaign contributions from banks and insurance companies didn't help.

He tried to make up for it by establishing limits on executive pay and bonuses to AIG and the bailout banks, but he botched it. He caved in to the administration's request to remove those limits. If he stuck to his guns, he might've saved his political career. Instead, it was the final salvo.

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