Chris Dodd Thoughts

Glenn has pointed out (rightly or wrongly, I don’t know–I don’t get around the blogosphere as much as he apparently does) that so-called “right-wing” blogs were much harder on Trent Lott than the lefty blogs are being now on Dodd in his own “Trent Lott” moment.

There are at least four things going on here, I think, though I should start by clarifying terminology, because a lot of the so-called right-wing blogs (including, among many others, this one, Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan) aren’t really right wing, except in the very narrow definition of “not opposed to the war.”

Now, if someone were to use such a restrictive definition, and put our round pegs in such an otherwise square hole, then part of being “right wing” is intrinsically liking Republicans, and being at least somewhat racist. Thus, it might have appeared surprising to people who confuse such things that these “right-wing” bloggers were attacking the leader of the Republicans in the Senate for simply saying things that we all agree with in our hearts anyway.

Of course, the reality is that few of us are truly “right-wing,” and many of the sites that were did in fact defend Lott, not because they are racist or knee-jerk Republicans, but because they saw a double standard being applied (as the current Dodd situation amply demonstrates). Two examples that come to mind are Sean Hannity and Fred Barnes (who is even this week using the Dodd case as an example of why Lott was treated unfairly).

So, anyway, this notion that “right-wing” blogs took down Lott is mistaken–he was taken down by libertarian blogs that were offended by such statements coming from anyone, particularly someone in a national leadership position.

But the second thing was that many, including me, never liked Lott to begin with, for many reasons having nothing to do with dumb racist remarks. Many Republicans considered him a disaster, always rolling over for Tom Daschle (most notably during impeachment), and were happy to use this as an excuse to rouse up the Democrats to make getting rid of him a quick and bi-partisan effort. I’m not aware of any similar unhappiness with Chris Dodd among Democrats.

The third, of course, is that there’s a perception that the Republicans have a history of racism to live down, so a Democrat can get away with things that a Republican cannot, as has been demonstrated by the object of the controversy, Senator Byrd, for decades. This is, of course, nonsense, since Republicans remain the party of Lincoln, and the Democrats have much more recent history in such matters (their dirty little secret remains the fact that much of the sixties civil rights legislation would never have passed without significant Republican support–too many southern Democrats opposed it). But the myth carries on, and the donkies feel that by pandering to the black community they inoculate themselves against charges of racism, and unfortunately, given the mindset of the media, they’re probably right. Because of this unfair perception, there is a need for Republicans to bend over backwards to censure any hint of true racism, and Lott certainly appeared to be guilty of that.

The fourth is a simple matter of integrity. Democrats tend to defend their own much more viciously than Republicans, almost always placing party over principle. The most notable example of this is to compare the difference between how Republicans treated their criminal president, sending senior party leaders down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to tell Richard Nixon it was time to go, while Democrats rallied around the corrupt Bill Clinton almost to a man and woman. Or compare Clinton’s treatment to Bob Packwood’s.

So don’t hold your breath waiting for any denunciations of Chris Dodd from the port side of the blogosphere in any manner resembling the fire that Lott received from either the true or so-called right.