Chris Dodd and I started our careers in 1974. He, as the newly-minted U.S. representative from Connecticut’s second Congressional district. Me, as a newly-minted radio reporter for WAVZ-AM in New Haven.
Dodd and Toby Moffett were the Gold Dust Twins of Connecticut politics in 1974, borne from the stench of Watergate. Moffett represented the sixth Congressional district. They were the first true masters of what became known as the “sound bite.” They spoke in 15-second bursts. Perfect for radio and television.
But their paths diverged in 1980, when Abe Ribicoff decided not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Both wanted the chance to succeed Ribicoff, but Moffett deferred to Dodd. Moffett lost a Senate race against incumbent Lowell Weicker two years later. He is now a consultant. Dodd is completing his 30th year as a U.S. Senator.
Dodd was washed into Washington by the political tsunami called Watergate. The media (especially the Washington Post, which broke the Dodd story just after midnight, and CBS News) rooted out a scandal that brought down an administration. The national media then was 3 television networks, The Washington Post and the New York Times.
Thirty years later, Dodd is flushed out of the system by his own political missteps (moving to Iowa to seek the 2008 presidential nomination), and his own personal miscalculations (the so-called “sweetheart loan” deal from Countrywide Mortgage). And the national media covering Dodd’s recent political problems is now a 24/7 pig that needs to be fed every minute of every day.
Maybe it’s the natural evolution of politics. Maybe it’s simply Dodd’s time to go. Maybe he stayed too long at the dance. (So few yield the power on their own.)
Had a different decision between two young politicians been made 30 years ago, we might be talking about Toby Moffett today. Instead, he went on to other things. Like anchoring the news at what became NBC Connecticut.
What kind of career is that?