Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dodd Laces up the Gloves for a Title Shot

More interesting to me than Sen. Chris Dodd's commonplace senatorial delusion that he could be elected President, is the trajectory his family's considerable political career traces of the distintegration of the Democratic Party from the default national ruling party of the 1960's to its role today of dyspeptic national scold, pushed into a reactive posture which offers only opposition rather than positive vision or constructive engagement with its opposition.

Sen. Chris Dodd's father, as is increasingly the case for today's ruling elite in both parties, also served two terms as Senator. Sen. Thomas Dodd, though, was a former FBI agent and prosecutor at Nuremberg who worked his way up through the Democratic machinery of post-war Connecticut. A firm Catholic and staunch anti-Communist, he was a prominent member of the Senate Internal Security subcommittee during the height of the Cold War. Problems with alcohol and campaign finance improprieties ferreted out by Jack Anderson in one of the many CIA-related stories that made Mr. Anderson's career, seriously damaged Sen. Thomas Dodd's political fortunes, and he lost re-election in 1970 as an independent after losing his own party's primary.

Sen. Chris Dodd, while maintaining pious support of his father's reputation, has come to embody the hard shift that occurred within the Democratic Party in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In stark contrast to his father's support for covert activities around the globe, Sen. Chris Dodd has throughout his career been one of the foremost opponents of CIA involvement in such matters as Nicaragua and Cuba. On matters of concern to Catholics, as well, he has been more reliably Leftist than Catholic, as his support for the partial-birth abortion veto override and support of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research unfortunately demonstrate.

The transformation of the Dodd political appeal from a blue collar ethnic base oriented around patriotism and family into an engine of suspicion of American power and preference for social transformation and engineering rather than traditional norms mirrors the transformation of the Democratic Party at large, and, after the collapse of the Progressive movement in the squalour and social disintegration of the 1970's, goes far to explain why Democrats today much prefer to explain why they oppose Republican policies rather than proposing their own hidebound retreads from the Summer of Love.

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