Or at least it appears that after their god-awful, factually inaccurate product of failed due diligence editorial, the Times is giving space for columnist Gail Collins to make up for their bad behavior. Her Saturday column was a great run-down of the yeoman’s work Chris Dodd has done thus far in the Obama administration, essentially presenting the case that Dodd has been the peoples’ most active and involved legislator thus far this Congress. Collins’ look at Dodd and AIG is one of the few times I’ve seen a traditional journalist recognize how unwarranted the attacks against him were:
During the bank bailouts, he was blamed for protecting the A.I.G. executives from bonus payment caps. This is deeply ironic since Dodd was one of the very few people in the Senate to show any interest whatsoever in salary caps until the cameras came on and our elected representatives began frothing with rage and demanding to be allowed to beat leaders of the financial industry with brooms and sticks.
Dodd’s role was complicated, but at bottom, the A.I.G. charge was so unfair that we can only hope he did something really, really bad at some previous point in his career and got away with it, thus balancing the scales of justice.
Collins goes on to look at what Dodd is busy doing during a tough campaign season:
While Dodd was busy watering down bankruptcy laws, he was also establishing himself as a leading progressive voice on a raft of other issues.
He resisted the siren call of Republican tax cuts in the Reagan and Bush administration. He was a persistent champion of quality early child care — an issue whose importance is matched only by its complete and total lack of vote-getting or donation-collecting potential. He authored the Family and Medical Leave Act. And he developed a close working relationship with his ailing friend Ted Kennedy, who designated Dodd as his surrogate on the health care legislation. In Kennedy’s absence, there is really no other Democrat in the Senate with so much ability to reach across the aisle and negotiate with Republicans while still keeping his eyes on the prize.
Like most seasoned political animals, Dodd’s response to his plummeting polls is to Do Stuff. Run around your home state. (He had a listening tour!) Make a splash in Washington. (Four bill-signing ceremonies in four months!) Find new ways to reach out to the masses. (Oh, Lord! He’s Twittering.)
Meanwhile, by his estimate, he spent 30 hours this week alone talking with Republican senators about the health care bill. On the phone, he sounded exhausted, but you can tell he sort of loves it. “It’s what I do,” he said.
Actually Collins is flat-out wrong in her first clause: Dodd is one of the strongest advocates for protecting strong bankruptcy laws in the US Senate. During the presidential campaign eRiposte of The Left Coaster did an intensive analysis of all the Senate Dem candidates records on bankruptcy reform legislation in 2000, 2001, and 2005. Concluding a ranking of Dodd, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama
Senator Chris Dodd has the best, and a near-perfect, voting record on Bankruptcy legislation. He has been consistently and strongly progressive on the topic of Bankruptcy “reform” at least since 2000.
Also, it’s a small point of pride that Chris Dodd has been using Twitter since 2007 – one of the first politicians to do so at the federal level.
But beyond these two quibbles, Collins really lays out the hard work Dodd is doing. There are a lot of bombs being thrown at him now in an effort to make one of the Senate’s liberal lions seem vulnerable at home. But the political barbs just don’t match the reality of what Dodd has actually done and is continuing to do in his role as one of the Senate’s most effective legislators.
Unfortunately while Collins’ column shows Times’ readers the great work Dodd is doing, it doesn’t undo the crap that the Times threw at Dodd earlier this week. But at least it’s an improvement…and a sign that someone at the Times is still paying to what Chris Dodd is actually doing and not merely the attack press releases Rob Simmons and the Connecticut GOP are putting out on a near-daily basis.