Republicans from across the Nutmeg State flocked to Stamford last night for the 31st Annual Prescott Bush Dinner, the party’s yearly gala fundraiser and awards dinner. The room of nearly 800 elected officials, candidates, party regulars, and guests gathered to honor Lt. Governor Mike Fedele with the Party’s highest honor, the Prescott Bush Award.
In his moving speech, Lt. Gov Fedele spoke warmly about his immigrant parents and the values they instilled in him. At the most emotional section of his acceptance address, Fedele choked up as he recalled his father’s sage advice: “All you have in life is your name and your handshake”.
The dinner’s featured guest, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, seemed particularly taken by the Lt. Governor’s comments, repeatedly referencing them in his keynote remarks. In his most pointed barb at our senior Senator, the leader of the Republican Revolution offered the view that “perhaps Chris Dodd would have benefited from meeting the Lt. Governor’s father”.
Dodd, of course, has his own filial devotions. Next week’s Newsweek edition includes a piece about Senator Dodd’s recent tribulations entitled “Like Father, Like Son“, which describes the many sides of a son’s life spent in search of absolution for a father’s misdeeds and, now, in defense of his own misdeeds.
That defense, aimed at avoiding the same pyre that ended his father’s career, is cast as that of a man who cares too much:
He has sat for hours by the beds of friends dying of cancer, and he regularly called former Connecticut governor John Rowland when he was in prison for corruption.
Blandly dismissing the Irish cottage scandal, breezing past the Countrywide scandal, and paying fair homage to Dodd’s task – having “to go kiss the ass of this Democratic chairman in this tiny town” as one Dodd confidant described it – the article seemed determined to cast Dodd as the picture of a man compelled by good intentions and defined by misfortune.
It is hard to miss that this hand wringing comes amid a Dodd public relations offensive, marked first by a $100,000 television ad buy more than 18 months prior to Election Day 2010 and a curiously coincidental TV ad from PhRMA worshipping Dodd, more “Dodd in action” news from the Senate Banking Committee, and a NY Times’ feature that lauds Mr. Dodd’s push on health care.
Amid all this activity, you could be forgiven for not noticing that Countrywide Financial’s disgraced CEO Angelo Mozilo, the architect of the eponymous “Friends of Angelo” program that passed out sweetheart mortgage deals to bigwigs like Sen. Chris Dodd, was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday.
The final judgement on whether Dodd still has his integrity will be cast by Connecticut’s electorate a year and a half from now. In no small part, it will likely be made on the same standard that the Lt. Governor’s father gave to his son: a name and a handshake.