A Watergate Baby Calls It Quits

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?

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About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in Living in the Past, News, People, Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Watergate Baby Calls It Quits

  1. Kathryn D. says:

    I think there should be term limits for all elected positions. Dodd has been in for 30 years. It is time for a change.

  2. Chip Gorra says:

    Well, Gerry, the good news is that you have outlasted them all!

  3. Li'l Em-Kel says:

    In the fall of 1974 I accompanied a young lady to the Woodstock Fair in northeast Connecticut for a day of fun and sun. It was a beautiful day and, as we walked through the entry gate, A slim, well-groomed, Ivy League kind of guy grabbed my hand and said, “Hello, I’m Chris Dodd and I’m running for Congress.”

    I said, “Good luck.”

    He said, “Where are you from?”

    I said, “Cromwell.’

    He looked me straight in the eye and said, almost accusingly, “You’re not even in my district.”

    Way to endear youself to the public, Chris.

    In 1974 Chris Dodd was a small-time political chump. But times have changed. Now he’s a big- . . . aw, why kick a guy when he’s down.

  4. joene says:

    I’m sure there are many reasons behind Chris Dodd’s decision to step down and specualtion over these will give talking ‘news’ heads some fodder for at least the current news cycle.

    I like to look at this story from a more human side. The man has worked for decades serving Connecticut, but now he has 2 young children, he’s in his 60’s, and has recently been treated for prostate cancer. These, combined, provide ample reasons for a life change. Add this to the derisiveness of the current senate, his recent controversies, and the fact that he just lost his very, very dear friend Ted Kennedy, and I’m not at all surprized he is bowing out. The man is human, after all.

    I will not jump on the bash Dodd wagon. All in all, he has done good things for CT.

    Now if we can just get our junior senator to make a similar decision … his actions are of much more concern!

  5. Sharon says:

    I was a young girl growing up in CT when Ella Grasso was our Govenor, I looked up to her as I would if I ever met Kathrine Hepburn (my favorite actress!). I remember going to the Capital Bldg with school and I was always amazed by that building. We had learned that so much had taken place there. I do remember hearing about Chris Dodd, but that was a year after my family moved to NY. I paid more attention though to who was going to be the next Sen. from CT than I was from NY. Afterall, CT was home to me, NY was a pit stop.

    Go ahead to June 2005 when I moved back ‘home’ to CT and again paid attention to CT politics. I kept looking at Chris Dodd and thought to myself, that he really should slow down. He looked tired even more so since Ted Kennedy passed away.

    Let the man be, he has made some mistakes, he’s human. Let him spend time with his family, let him try to get some rest if he can. Not be at the beck and call for everybody. Blumenthal seems like he wants to be more in the ‘hightlight’ for more people.

    I’m sorry I missed your interview, I was invited out for dinner to celebrate my losing 32.2 pounds so far on Weight Watchers. So I hope you will forgive me.

  6. It is not about basing Dodd. You stay in a power position in politics (local, state, national), long enough, you loose your way..Republicans, Democrats, Independents…you just lose your perspective. I’m sure there is a great job waiting for him…

  7. Li'l Em-Kel says:

    Amen.

  8. joene says:

    No argument on your point, Marshall. I just prefer to point out positive aspects whenever possible. I figure doing so helps offset all the negativity floating in the airwaves … not here, Gerry, but in general.

    • Gerry says:

      Actually, I agree with both of you. I consider myself lucky that you’re both willing to take the time to leave intelligent comments and observations.

  9. Pat Brady says:

    Gerry,
    In today’s vernacular. “You did good “with this piece. It is “way more better” than most; so is your blog.
    Pat Brady

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