I have to say that, like many of you I’m sure, I’ve been watching the deterioration of Chris Dodd’s political fortunes with more than a bit of alarm. And I’ve been reluctant to say anything, that is, until I read this post from Megan McArdle of The Atlantic.
I’m sure McArdle is a pretty bright individual, but I really have to wonder why she would write a post sourcing an editorial in the Augusta (GA) Chronicle attacking Dodd over the bonuses paid to executives of AIG (the editorial is fundamentally wrong for reasons I will note shortly). Another clue as to the partisan nature of the Chronicle editorial is the fact that it praises South Carolina Repug Gov. Mark Sanford for “(doing) his best to wean his state off the cocaine of federal money. He knows it's corrupting. He knows it will mask the state's needs rather than fill them. He knows we are stealing from our children.”
Gosh, what noble rhetoric from the Chronicle. Would that I and others had heard it while Dubya and his “ship of fools,” otherwise known as the 108th and 109th Congresses, were busy passing and signing budgets into law that left us awash in red ink (and no, I’m not going to go off on another rant defending the stimulus; at this point, if people still don’t get the concept, they never will).
And I guess what has me a little ticked off is the decidedly lukewarm response to the news of Dodd’s current electoral trouble from progressives generally, helped also by Dodd himself, I realize; I wish he’d written an Op-Ed months ago explaining this Countrywide mortgage deal once and for all in response to the caterwauling from the right-wing echo chamber, chiefly the Murdoch Street Journal – I posted about this awhile ago here; it all appears to be nothing but a tempest in the proverbial teapot.
Something else in McArdle’s post today that I took issue with is the following claim…
…the more damning case (against Dodd) is that the Senate Banking Committee was basically non-functional in the early part of the crisis, because Dodd was running for president. Even if early action could have saved us money and pain later--and that's a big if--I recently heard a plausible case made that such action was made impossible by his presidential campaign. But somehow, no one finds that offensive, or even notable.Well, Dodd ended his presidential campaign in January 2008 after he was shut out in the Iowa caucuses (making his purchase of property there all the more mystifying to your humble narrator), but the collapse of Lehman Brothers (the moment that our economic slide really started to accelerate) didn’t take place until September of that year, and the first TARP funds weren’t released until the following month. Besides, with Dubya still on board and fellow Repug Richard Shelby at Dodd’s side on the Senate Finance Committee, I’m not sure what else Dodd could have been expected to accomplish.
However, we know the real reason why Dodd is in trouble, and that’s because the “kick me” sign, as it were, has been pinned on his back for the AIG bonuses paid out with TARP funds.
Yeah, well, therein hangs a tale; as noted here by My Left Nutmeg (excerpting Glenn Greenwald)…
It was Dodd who did everything possible -- including writing and advocating for an amendment -- which would have applied the limitations on executive compensation to all bailout-receiving firms, including AIG, and applied it to all future bonus payments without regard to when those payments were promised. But it was Tim Geithner and Larry Summers who openly criticized Dodd's proposal at the time and insisted that those limitations should apply only to future compensation contracts, not ones that already existed. The exemption for already existing compensation agreements -- the exact provision that is now protecting the AIG bonus payments -- was inserted at the White House's insistence and over Dodd's objections. [...]So what has been the effect of this Dodd sellout by Geithner and Summers? Basically, according to this Quinnipiac poll, Dodd would lose big in a head-to-head matchup with presumptive Repug Senate candidate Rob Simmons (with pollster Douglas Schwartz telling us that “a 33 percent job approval rating is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent”).
The point was -- and is -- that Dodd was pressured to put that carve-out in at the insistence of Treasury officials (whose opposition meant that Dodd's choices were the limited compensation restriction favored by Geithner/Summers or no limits at all), and Dodd did so only after arguing in public against it. To blame Dodd for provisions that the White House demanded is dishonest in the extreme...
Well, to me, this spells trouble, even though the election is due to take place a year and a half from now (basically, Dodd is losing to “anybody not named Chris Dodd” at this point). And it would be nice if some lefty political sites such as this one would be a little less inclined to pump up silly “scandals” involving Dodd in a cheap attempt to drive up their hit count (that is, unless they want to contribute to the “drip, drip, drip” of negative commentary that could ultimately drown him in November 2010).
After all, let’s not forget that Dodd tried to fix the fatally flawed FISA bill that was signed into law last year here (and speaking of FISA, I would call this a decidedly alarming development, and a little beyond "trying to sweep something under the rug" – nice try by Obama’s people to pull this off while press coverage is focused on the POTUS overseas).
Also, as noted here, Dodd mixed it up with Billo the Clown over The Daily Kos, and he also signed on here as a cosponsor to an amendment sponsored by fellow Dem Russ Feingold in 2007 to redeploy our troops out of Iraq in 90 days (we know what happened to that one, of course).
So basically, Dodd is a friend of progressives as far as I’m concerned. And I was always taught that you try to help out a friend when that person is in trouble.
And a lukewarm blog post by anyone with unjustified innuendo of wrongdoing doesn’t even come close to doing that.