Sen. Chris Dodd has been having a bad week, with his role in the AIG bonus scandal making national news. Dodd even earned the wrath of an angry mob on The Daily Show last night:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M – Th 11p / 10c|
|The Notorious AIG – Congress Wants to Blame Someone|
The juxtaposition of Dodd’s two statements on the issue is particularly damaging. Dodd is now very closely associated with the AIG scandal, and not in a good way. I even heard the morning show guys on Rock 102, a Springfield, MA, station, talking about it this morning.
However, the AIG scandal is starting to die down a little bit, so obviously Dodd’s going to get a break, right? Wrong. The front page of the Courant this morning is focusing on Dodd’s problems, including the return of the mortgage scandal. Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have issued a report which suggests Dodd’s mortgage broke ethics rules.
Okay, first, this is a report from House Republicans, who are not known for their fondness of Dodd. But, as I noted yesterday, the report does contain some pretty bad stuff, such as the fact that Countrywide employees often went out of their way to inform customers if they were in the VIP program.
It’s a double whammy of bad news for Chris Dodd. Plus, his potential opponent for 2010, Rob Simmons, has finally weighed in on the controversy:
“He says one thing one day, one thing another day,” Simmons said. “Where’s the transparency in all of this? People have lost their savings, they’ve lost their jobs. There’s no leadership…I can’t believe the chairman of a committee can take a bill to the floor and speak in favor of it and vote on it without knowing what’s in it.
A very good point. However, Simmons himself has been known not to read bills. In late 2005, he voted for a budget bill without having read it, only to change his mind and vote against the final version after considerable pressure from constituents . That said, Simmons wasn’t a committee chairman, he didn’t bring the bill forward, and that bill was brought to a vote with almost no time for any kind of review. Dodd’s staff inserted the language.
Dodd is in full damage control mode. He held a conference call with Connecticut reporters yesterday, and has attempted to explain that A) he didn’t know that the language would lead to AIG bonuses, and B) it’s all the administration’s fault. You can hear the full audio of the call over at MLN, where you can also view a nice sampling of media reaction collected by CTBlogger.
You can also take a look at CTNJ if you want a roundup of the highlights.
So far, Dodd’s damage control efforts don’t seem to be working very well. Dodd’s efforts to pass the buck to the Obama administration seems like an effort to weasel out of the blame, and the reaction has not been positive. Give Tim Geithner credit: once it became clear that the language originated with the Treasury department, he took responsibility for it. Dodd has yet to.
Both the media and the GOP smell blood, and they aren’t about to let up. The public is angry, too, and Dodd is feeling a lot of the frustration people feel about the economy and politicians in general. Even Nancy DiNardo says that Dodd could have “handled it better.”
So where does Dodd go from here? It’s hard to say. He can expect the next few weeks to be difficult, but if no new scandals emerge he can also reasonably expect things to improve from there. The next round of polling could prove to be very bad for him, however, and he should be prepared for that.
Will next week be better for Dodd? It’s hard to see how it could get much worse.
UPDATE: Well, one way it could get worse would be if high-profile newspaper columnists started calling for him to not run next year. Like, say, here.
BUDGET BILL AN EMBARRASSMENT :[STATEWIDE Edition]. (2006, January 29). Hartford Courant,p. C2. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from Hartford Courant database. (Document ID: 978860481).
A quote from the article:
The conference bill, nearly 800 pages, was put forward after 1 a.m. A vote was called about four hours later. U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons said he didn’t read the bill — how could he have in that time period, he asks. How indeed. Yet he voted for it because of the “reasonable expectation that there was some good in it” and because “that’s the way it’s done.”
No wonder people are cynical about government.
Mr. Simmons has since changed his mind. After talking to constituents and advocates such as Connecticut Voices For Children, he said he was going to vote against the final version when it comes up in the House this week.