Points By Drew Pritt

Dodd follows father in being vetted for Veep.
July 11, 2008, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


According to Political Wire and TIME Magazine, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) is being vetted for Vice President with Senator Barack Obama (D-Il.) When asked about it, Dodd said, “There’s been some inquiries, yeah. They ask for a lot of stuff. I’ll leave it there.”

But this is not the first time a Senator Dodd has been vetted for Vice President. In 1964, Senator Dodd’s father, then-U.S. Senator Thomas J. Dodd (D-Ct.) was one of the finalists to run with President Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tx.) In fact, Johnson flew Humphrey and Dodd inconspicuously up from the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey to the White House to make his choice known. Although the press had swirled about Humphrey as the likely running mate, no one knew much about the elder Dodd at the time.

The elder Dodd earned a bachelor’s degree from Providence College in 1930 and received a law degree from Yale University in 1933. He served as the President of the Yale Democratic Club and led a group of young liberals, the “Flying Wedge“, to speak on behalf of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 1934, U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings, another Connecticut native, was so impressed with Dodd’s work at Yale that he convinced the young attorney to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dodd became a Special Agent and participated in the apprehension of such notorious criminals as John Dillinger, “Babyface” Nelson, and the Bremer kidnappers. During World War II, Dodd handled cases involving espionage and sabotage that helped cripple Nazi fifth column efforts to destabilize the United States war effort. His work led to the convictions of Reverend Kurt Molzahn, Wilhelm Kunge, Otto Willimanti, and Count Anostase Vonsiatsky on spying charges. Dodd also helped uncover industrial fraud by American firms supplying military hardware, including such New England companies as Anaconda Wire and Cable, Collyer Insulated Wire, Arrow Machine Tool, and Lincoln Machine.

As the war ended, the Allied Powers prepared to convene a military tribunal to prosecute accused Nazi war criminals. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the head of the American legal team, requested that Dodd join the jurists assembling at Nuremberg, Germany. Dodd served as Vice-Chairman of the Review Board and Executive Trial Counsel. The latter position rendered Dodd the second ranking U.S. lawyer and s supervisor of the day-to-day management of the U.S. prosecution team. He shaped many of the strategies and policies through which this unprecedented trial took place. He reconstructed the will of the last president of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, to reveal that the Nazis had falsified this document to help justify Chancellor Adolph Hitler’s consolidation of power. Dodd’s Nuremberg work enhanced his stature and visibility back in the United States. He received a Presidential Citation, the U.S. Medal of Freedom, and the Czechoslovakian Order of the White Lion for his outstanding efforts. In 1949 the Polish government, then dominated by Moscow, offered him a prestigious award for service at Nuremberg. Dodd responded with a scathing, public denunciation of Communism in which he refused to accept honors from a regime that he perceived as barely distinct from National Socialism.

Upon his return to America in 1946, Dodd began the private practice of law in Hartford and entered Connecticut politics. He sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1948 against a better-known candidate, Chester Bowles, without ever formally announcing his candidacy. Democratic State Chairman John M. Bailey threw his support behind the more liberal Bowles. Bailey then began a “Draft Dodd” movement for Lieutenant Governor, but Dodd refused to join what he perceived as a sellout to Communist sympathizers. He focused instead upon civic, charity, and service work. In 1950 Dodd returned to public life to campaign vigorously on behalf of Connecticut Senator Brien McMahon against Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s efforts to unseat him. Despite his ardent anticommunism, Dodd resisted the overly zealous red-baiting of the Cold War. McMahon triumphed in the ensuing election and Democrats encouraged Dodd to pursue a political career. Dodd won election to Congress from the First Congressional District in 1952 and was reelected two years later. He was the only Connecticut Democrat to sit in the U.S. House during this period. Dodd served on the Government Operations and Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the Select Committee to Investigate Communist Aggression. After unsuccessfully running for the U.S. Senate in 1956 against Republican incumbent Prescott Bush, Dodd ran again and defeated Republican William A. Purtell in 1958. Earlier that year he had received the Commander of the Order of Merit award from the President of Italy for counsel provided to help prevent a Communist seizure of power.

President Johnson briefly considered naming Dodd as his vice-presidential running mate in 1964, but opted instead for Senator Hubert Humphrey. The publicity surrounding the vice-presidential selection may have served as a reward for Dodd’s support of Johnson during the 1960 presidential campaign. In 1964 Johnson enthusiastically endorsed Dodd during a campaign swing through Connecticut and Dodd won his second Senate term with a landslide victory over former Republican Governor John Davis Lodge.

In 1966 allegations of financial impropriety surfaced against Thomas Dodd. The Senate began holding hearings the following year to investigate Dodd for his alleged transgressions. Senator Russell Long (D-La.) conducted a vigorous and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to clear Dodd’s name. The Senate voted 92-5 to censure him for diverting public funds for private use (primarily through the use of testimonial dinners). He escaped censure on the charge of double billing the government by a vote of 51-45. In 1970 Dodd withdrew his name from consideration by the Democratic State Convention after learning that he would not receive renomination for the Senate. He proceeded to mount an unsuccessful independent campaign against Republican Lowell Weicker and Democrat Joe Duffy. One young liberal Democrat working for Duffy was a young Arkansan, named Bill Clinton. 

Dodd retired from public life following Weicker’s triumph. He died in his Old Lyme home on 24 May 1971, at the age of 64.


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