THE SPINE JANUARY 8, 2010
Of course, had Chris Dodd run for re-election, he would have lost.
And, frankly, just on the merits, he would have deserved to lose. He is a corrupt but ethically pretentious man. And, just think, he aspired to be president of the United States.
The reason his seat won’t be lost to the Democrats is because Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, is running to be his successor. Even from afar, Blumenthal is an impressive politician. And, from up close--that is, from the perspective of the state’s voters--his approval rating is a whopping 78%, according to the respected Quinnipiac University poll. Two other polls indicate that, if the election were held today, he’d beat any of his three potential Republican opponents by anywhere from 23 to 40 points.
And the Nutmeg State is not a consistently Democratic state.
I knew Blumenthal long ago. But I haven’t seen him in at least a quarter-century and, quite possibly, many more years than that. He was a friend of friends, and when we met--while other undergraduates were “changing the world”--he was a mature and sensible young person who had the future in his hands and head. What surprised me as I read the article about him in Wednesday’s New York Times was to learn that he’s stayed on as attorney general for two decades. His record as a defender of consumers, for example, is really quite notable, as a piece by Reuters points out.
Particularly galling to Dodd must be that one of the true honors in Blumenthal’s record is that, in 2008, he went after Countrywide, the crooked national home lender with which the present senator got enmeshed. Yes, Dodd got a much lower rate than you or I would ever have received.
There was one false note in the Times profile. Apparently, party officials are expecting his remarkably wealthy real-estate family (the Empire State Building among its treasures) to help pay for his campaign. “But Mr. Blumenthal, in the interview, ruled that out, saying he would rely on donations from supporters. ‘My campaign will be a grass-roots, bottom-up effort,’ he said.”
This is being more than a bit tight. Why should a very rich person rely only on other very rich people to pay and pave his way into office?
Thinking about Chris Dodd again ... or, rather, his father Tom, who was also a U.S. senator from Connecticut. His career came to an end when the Senate voted 92-5 to censure him for misappropriating campaign funds for private use, and he lost his campaign for re-election. So here’s the post-script. I once asked Gene McCarthy whether he was ashamed of any vote he had cast in the Senate. With startling alacrity, he said: “Yes, when I voted to censure Tom Dodd for using campaign money for private purposes. We all did it. And, in the end, we all proclaimed our private virtue.”