Chris Dodd made news for perhaps the last time in his campaign yesterday by filibustering the FISA bill that would have granted immunity to telecom companies that cooperated with government wiretapping programs.
It was a triumphant moment for Dodd. For the past few months, he’s been
that Senate Democrats not capitulate to the administration on wiretapping. Now Harry Reid has withdrawn the bill, with plans to revisit it in January.
But it’s hard to see this translating to campaign success in any meaningful way. Back in October, Dodd won praise by shouting his opposition to the FISA bill. He also made headlines by becoming the first candidate to oppose Michael Mukasey for attorney general. Following his lead, the three Democratic front-runners all jumped on board.
But since then, Dodd has all but vanished. Sure, he moved his family to Iowa and continues to campaign diligently, launching his current “12 Days of Results” tour across Iowa. But what was once an uphill climb is starting to look like a wall. National polls barely acknowledge his existence: As Time ‘s Joel Stein put it , Dodd “pulls in 1 more percentage point in national polling numbers than you do.” Campaign political futures , usually more accurate than polls, put him at rock bottom with back-runner Dennis Kucinich, dropout Evan Bayh, and some guy named Brian Schweitzer .
The main reason Dodd hasn’t been able to convert his FISA crusade into campaign momentum – aside from the likelihood that voters don’t care – is the discord between the campaign frenzy and the plodding legislative process. Had he been able to filibuster the FISA bill back in October, it might have done him some good. But now, people have moved on. Whereas campaign narratives are measured in weeks, congressional stories last months, years, and decades. Chris Dodd’s picked a lawmaker’s battle, not a candidate’s. That’s why his victory, while significant, isn’t likely to bring him any closer to the nomination.
Read/watch his floor speech