March 4, 2009

POLITICO: Dodd’s Dangerous Wall Street Dance:

Just 18 months ago, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd slowed efforts to hike taxes on a portion of Wall Street bonuses, saying he was “concerned about the potential adverse effects” on investment and employment.

Now, as unemployment rises and credit markets freeze, Dodd is hunting for Wall Street blood. . . .

Like any Washington survivor who senses that the political tide is shifting, Dodd knows he must swim with it or sink in its wake.

And for Dodd, the danger of drowning is quite real. He’s up for reelection in 2010, and he has seen his poll numbers drop dramatically since a report last year about his alleged special mortgage deal from Countrywide Financial.

“Dodd actually is a vulnerable incumbent right now,” said Gary Rose, chairman of the government and politics department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. “This is an effort on his part to once again re-establish himself as a man of the people.”

But can Dodd make that turn and still count on the support of financial services firms — or at least those that still exist — to keep pumping money into his campaign coffers? . . . Voters, wary of what seems like an endless succession of bailouts, want elected officials to come down hard on the industry and its once-extravagant executives. But Dodd’s contributor list reads like a who’s who of the economic meltdown: Citigroup, Bear Stearns, American International Group and Goldman Sachs are top campaign contributors.

If I were them, I’d try to take him out. As an example to others . . . .

UPDATE: I’m guessing that the whole Irish “cottage” thing won’t help his image as a man of the people, even in Connecticut.

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