Chris Dodd appeared yesterday for a speech and Q&A session sponsored by FireDogLake regarding his commitment to doing everything possible to prevent telecom amnesty. It can be viewed in its entirety here. The transcript is here.Both Clinton and Obama remained quiet on the issue until they were forced to make a statement - that's not leadership but political hackery.
Dodd is not the planet's greatest orator and is never going to be. But he has something, at least right now, that is far more important: authenticity and passion about defending the Constitution and the rule of law, along with the resolve to accompany those convictions with action, even if it risks alienating his "friends and colleagues" in the oh-so-august Senate.
As Dodd said yesterday: "I'm not afraid to do this alone. I feel so strongly about this. It's part of my DNA." He then proceeded to explain why he believes that restoration of our constitutional framework and the rule of law is the matter of the greatest urgency, and recounted why those values are inculcated in him, as they are in many -- I'd say most -- Americans. I think Dodd's authenticity and passion -- undoubtedly bolstered by the tidal wave of encouragement he received last week from tens of thousands of American committed to these issues -- is evident from how he is he speaking and the commitments he is making.
Contrast Dodd's leadership and conviction on this matter with the complete passivity and invisibility of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both candidates finally issued statements last night purporting to set forth their views on telecom amnesty and the FISA bill -- but did so only because they were forced to, after they learned that several blogs, in conjunction with MoveOn, intended to launch efforts today to pressure their campaigns finally to say where they stood on the Dodd filibuster.
Whatever that is, it's the opposite of "leadership." And it is this passivity and amorphous, shapeless, inspiration-free invisibility that has come increasingly to characterize both of their campaigns, along with the leadership of their party. That is why Dodd's relatively mild actions have generated such intense enthusaism and support -- a drop of water to someone stranded in the desert will seem like a royal feast.
And the "substance" of the statements issued both by Obama and Clinton is no more impressive than their obvious reluctance to get anywhere near this issue. While both of them suggest that they might support a filibuster to stop telecom amnesty, both statements are couched in the sort of amorphous, equivocating hedging that is the currency of the principle-free, cynical-game-playing Beltway insider.