Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chris Dodd Visits New Hampshire And Makes His Case For Dark Horse Status

John Weaver, Senator McCain's senior political advisor, said it best when he commented Saturday on the Democratic field for '08, "The Clinton, Obama, Edwards chain match will be hard to avert my eyes from, speaking as a pure spectator of course."

John Weaver as political spectator?


Setting aside Weaver's tongue in cheek, the Big Three will be interesting to watch. Very interesting indeed.

And, with a mere 2 years to go before a new President is sworn in, we at GreenMountaintainPolitics1 have already passed judgement on which of The Big Three we believe should be the Democratic nominee in '08.

Our claim that John Edwards is the Democratic candidate best positioned to win a general election is not an endorsement of Senator Edwards or his policies (though we do like Senator Edwards quite a bit).

We are simply talking electability and we are doing it from the cheap seats. No more, no less. Like always at GreenMountainPolitics1.

But what about the Democratic Dark Horses?

What if one of the Big Three were to falter? Or, GASP, one of the Big Three was convinced by his Party not to actually run (Obama) and another's campaign blew apart under the weight of it's own mass (Clinton)?

Then the Big Three would be down to the Single One.

Who would step up to challenge that Single One for the Democratic nomination?

That question brings us to the part in this movie where the little boy playing the part of Chris Dodd throws his hand into the air and yells, "I would! I would!"

Senator Dodd would like the opportunity to challenge that Single One.

And, after seeing him last night at The Lazy Lion Cafe in Deerfield, NH, we think he might do a good job at it to.

Of course, Dodd's path to the Democratic nomination is still hard to visualize. There is a lot of high profile talent throwing elbows just to be considered the Party's "second-choice" right now.

We all already know that Senator Biden and Governor Vilsack are legitimate 2nd tier candidates waiting for one of the Big Three to falter. GreenMountainPolitics1 looks forward to interviewing those two rascals later on the NH campaign trail.

We all already know that Governor Richardson is running for the Vice Presidency and not the Presidency (although his stint at DOE will make even a VP slot tough for the otherwise attractive candidate).

Dodd is running into a crowded field. And he knows it.

However, he told the crowd at the Lazy Lion Last night that he would prevail once voters hear his ideas and witness the leadership he has shown in the U.S. Senate for the last 25 years.

"I have a lot of confidence in the voters of this state to sort this out," Dodd stated.

Confidence in NH voters aside, we here at GreenMountainPolitics1 think that Dodd has one advantage over both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (but not John Edwards, Vilsack or Biden) - Dodd's stance on the Iraq War.

Let me nuance that a bit - Dodd's plan to move forward in Iraq.

Let me nuance that a bit more - Dodd's plan to move forward in the Iraq War that will please the "Get Out of Iraq Now" left. Or, as Democratic Strategist Dick Morris calls them, The New Left.

And, being able to appease and work with the New Left is no small thing. Especially for a primary.

Last night at the Lazy Lion I watched Senator Dodd do something interesting.

When I asked him about what his plan for Iraq he initially gave the fairly standard "We need to win the Presidency in '08 so we can't allow our Party to be tagged as too soft on National Security by exercising Congress' Power of the Purse and forcing the President to bring the troops home so I really don't have a new way forward please don't tell my base" Democrat answer.

In other words, Dodd initially talked mushy yip-yap about "troop-caps" and "Congressional Oversight" and "Sense of the Senate".

And mushy yip-yap that all is.

Remember, if you are against the troop surge AND you are against cutting off funding for the whole war by DEFAULT you are staying the course in Iraq.

Which means that you're not only part of the Iraq problem, but also that you're a weak-kneed sap who doesn't have the strength of your own convictions.

It's a common theme of ours over here at GreenMountainPolitics1.

Mushy yip-yap - much like what Candidate Clinton has been spooning out when she is asked about Iraq.

And Candidate Obama isn't just giving a mushy yip-yap answer on Iraq, he's giving a mushy QUESTION to the question - "We need to find a new way forward by asking..."

Of course he doesn't have an answer to that question either.

Who's on first?

However, I wrote that mushy yip-yap was how Dodd initially answered my question on Iraq.

When I pushed him with a follow-up question, Chris Dodd left the Reid/Pelosi/Clinton/Obama talking points on the war and told the crowd what he really thought Congress should do.

Clacker: "Senator Dodd, isn't it true that when the rubber hits the road, the only way that you can "hold the President accountable" and "bring a new direction in Iraq" is through exercising Congress' power of the purse? Isn't everything else just showmanship and window dressing?"

Dodd: "Well, I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope that President Bush listens to what the voters said in the election of '06, but yes, I think you are right. We have to go after this thing in stages. And, if we reach the stage where the President is not listening to the Congress then I would support exploring ways to cut funding for the war."

Finally! A Democratic candidate other than Edwards who is is ready to put their money where there mouth is when it comes to the Iraq War.

And, while GreenMountainPolitics1 totally disagrees with Dodd's (and Edwards) position (we wholeheartedly support the surge), we respect his (and Edwards) clarity and conviction.

Because we know that if you claim you want to bring American troops home from Iraq and end the American occupation then you must support cutting off funding for the whole war.

There is no other way. Everything else is mushy yip-yap, surging or staying the course.

And, for now, it looks like Dodd is avoiding the mushy yip-yap on Iraq. Which is why we think he has a (small) chance in the Democratic Primary.

Let the cage match begin.