The gathering Chris Dodd scandal may be the best evidence yet that Democrats are getting serious about going blow-for-blow with the GOP in the upcoming elections.
"It has often been said that the man and the moment come together," the senior senator and Phil Donahue lookalike from the Nutmeg State said last week. "I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time."
On the occasion of the execrable Byrd's 17,000th vote in the Senate, Dodd opined that Byrd "would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation," adding, "I cannot think of a single moment in this nation's 220-plus-year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true."
Byrd (D-WV) is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A few thoughts:
• It is terrifying to think that Robert Byrd has voted on 17,000 pieces of legislation.
• Republicans are completely right to declare bullshit on Democrats who heaped contempt on Trent Lott for his comments in praise of retired Senator Strom Thurmond. If nothing else it's incredibly stupid to cite the Civil War as an ideal test of Byrd's character. (I believe he was too old to serve in that one anyway.)
• There are some important differences: Dodd is in the minority, so there isn't much in the way of chairmanships he can be busted down from. Also, Byrd is still serving in the Senate, so it's a little weird to get angry about Dodd for praising Byrd, rather than getting angry at Byrd himself. Lott on the other hand had to die for Strom Thurmond's sins because the proud dad of Essie Mae Washington-Williams wasn't there to kick around anymore. (Not that they would have done much kicking even if he'd still been in office, Thurmond's jolly old elf routine having shielded him from a lifetime of richly deserved disapprobation.)
• If Dodd plays his cards right, he may get to carry on a family tradition of upper-house disgrace. As proud Husky Mike Alissi notes, Senator Thomas Dodd, the current senator's father, was censured in 1967 for helping himself to campaign funds. Here he is in the rogues' gallery, between Tailgunner Joe and Herman Talmadge.
• I remain grateful to Byrd for arguing last year that the invasion of Iraq was a raw deal for America. But since he didn't get anywhere with that stand, the hell with him. While we're condemning Dodd, let's not overlook the glaring fact that the world's most exclusive club contains a former Klansman.