Word comes today that Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd will not seek reelection. Unlike the retirement from office of North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, who announced his exit yesterday, Dodd’s decision improves the Democrats’ chances of retaining the seat.
Dodd’s father was Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd. The elder Dodd’s military service included the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials. (See Shmuel Rosner’s comments on the book compiling Dodd’s letters home from Nuremberg.) In office, however, Thomas Dodd achieved the rare distinction of being censured by the Senate.
The elder Dodd was censured by the Senate for corruption in 1967. Dodd had converted campaign funds to his personal use. Dodd proceeded to lose the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat in 1970, but nevertheless returned to face the voters in 1970 as an independent. He lost a three-way race in which Lowell Weicker emerged victorious.
One might have thought that the example of his father would have led the younger Dodd to conduct himself with great probity in office. On the contrary, however, with his preferential mortgage extended to him by a company under his jurisdiction, his stonewalling about it, and his crooked Irish cottage, he showed that corruption ran in the family.
It should be noted that in the last sentence of his article on Dodd’s retirement, Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza writes of Dodd’s Countrywide shenanigans (with the help of staff writers Paul Kane and Dan Balz!): “Dodd insisted he was unaware of his inclusion in the [preferential loan] program, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee, but the political damage was done.” Pathetic.
Dodd also made a memorable appearance in the late Michael Kelly’s GQ article on Teddy Kennedy. Like his father, Dodd was a formidable consumer of alcohol. Dodd’s escapades with Teddy Kennedy inspired Kelly’s aphorism: “Drunks are notoriously poor judges of distance, including the distance between fun and assault.”
In the lawful performance of his official duties Dodd helped create the financial crisis. He was an ardent defender of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored entities that returned the admiration through financial support to Dodd’s campaign. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac contributed more than $165,000 to Dodd. He was, after all, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Taxpayers took it seven ways from Sunday in the arrangement.
Dodd joined his corruption with a bullying liberal self-righteousness and condescension. It is a sickening combination. He richly deserved the thumping by the voters that his exit will unfortunately deprive them of administering.
UPDATE: A reader comments: “You’re right that WaPo story was pathetic. It might bear repeating that the Senate Ethics Committee washed its hands of the matter, ruling that even if Dodd knew he was getting a break due to his office, he probably could have shopped around and got the same deal, maybe. The committee did not clear Dodd of any wrongdoing; they redefined bribery to exclude discounts.” The Senate Ethics Committee letter announcing the disposition of the Dodd/Countrywide matter is accessible here.
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