January 14, 2008

When Chris Dodd pulled out of the presidential race, he promised to keep up the good fight on the FISA bill and filibuster it if it contained retroactive immunity for telecoms. For showing this leadership, there was an outcry from the netroots to support Dodd as Majority Leader. Unfortunately, that support from the electorate (I mean, how dare he listen to the people who put him in office? The nerve!) as well as his continued pledge to filibuster the FISA bill is making Chris Dodd a very isolated person within his caucus. Per Roll Call (subscription req'd):

(D)uring his campaign for the presidency, Dodd chose to focus much of his time and energy on foreign policy issues and became an outspoken critic of President Bush's wiretapping programs, going so far as to filibuster a compromise Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization because of privacy concerns.

That prompted some private complaints from Democrats, who felt Dodd should have focused more on core issues under his committee's jurisdiction, particularly when the foreclosure crisis began to heat up last fall. Party leaders were reportedly unhappy with the fact that Dodd did not spend more time personally working on the mortgage legislation his committee produced and which Sen. Charles Schumer ( D-N.Y.) ultimately helped shepherd out of the chamber.

And while some hard feelings may remain, Dodd is set on hitting the ground running in terms of his committee work this year, planning an aggressive agenda that will feed into the party's broader economic efforts, aides said.[..]

Democrats said the FISA fight - which could come in the first week or two of the new session - may be an early test of whether Dodd's presidential campaign has caused any significant strains in his relationships with colleagues.

One senior Democratic aide said that while some Democrats could have been irked in the heat of the moment, most understand it is the nature of presidential campaigning for candidates to tackle hot-button issues and to rely heavily on veteran staff for day-to-day work in the Senate.

"I think it's too early to say" whether there are any hard feelings, the Democratic aide said. "But I think you could term it as a key few months for him" in terms of his reintegration into the Caucus. "It will be interesting to watch when he returns," the aide said.

For those not fluent in DC passive-aggressive speak, allow me to translate the "anonymous Democratic aide" for you: "okay, we know you needed to do something to stand out from the pack during your campaign, but now you need to get in line, or you'll find yourself at odds with your caucus." That's right...the Senate Democratic leadership doesn't like it when you step away from their agenda of signing off on every one of Bush's threatened vetoes and take a stand. Look at the telecom donations and see if you see some familiar names.

Dodd needs our support. I've been in contact with his team and they want responses from citizens that they can show his staff as well as others to let them know that we have Dodd's back to continue this fight. Please contact Sen. Dodd or leave a comment on this thread supporting his leadership.

PFAW also has ways you can get involved to fight telecom immunity.

UPDATED: ThinkProgress has White House spokesperson Tony Fratto's hysterical fear mongering designed to corner the Senate into passing the FISA law with the immunity:

“We’re exactly three weeks away,” he said, “from the date when terrorists can be free to make phone calls without fear of being surveilled by U.S. intelligence agencies”.

You know this kind of scare tactic is Harry Reid's Achilles heel, he's petrified to look soft on "terra", so your support of Dodd is even more crucial.

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