Thanks to Hollywood lobbyist and former Senate banking chair Chris Dodd for telling it like it is.
Dodd warned that Hollywood’s big-money contributors, who have been very, very good to President Obama and his fellow Democrats, might withhold their cash after the president expressed reservations over a controversial Internet anti-piracy bill.
Who ever would have guessed it would be Dodd, who during his 21-year-long career in Washington collected more than $48 million in campaign contributions, much of it from the financial industry he was supposed to be overseeing, who would cut through all the lies and palaver to deliver the knockout punch to our Citizens United-poisoned political system?
“Candidly, those who count on quote `Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” Dodd told Fox News. “Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
But who better than Dodd to make clear what contributors expect for their cash. He knows exactly how the system works, from both sides of the revolving door.
It was Dodd, after all, who made sure that AIG executives got their bonuses in 2009 while taxpayers were bailing out the firm at the heart of the subprime meltdown. It was no coincidence that AIG executives had showered Dodd with $56,000 in contributions.
Nobody knows this terrain as well as Dodd.
He was a “friend of Angelo,” one of those elected officials who personally got sweet mortgage deals – at below market rates– from Angelo Mozilo, the head of the Countrywide, the mortgage company that nearly sank under the weight of its subprime trash loans until Bank of America rescued it. (His colleagues on the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against him.)
While he and his colleague, Rep. Barney Frank (House Financial Services Committee?), oversaw the watering down of financial reform legislation in the wake of the financial crisis, Dodd played the role of beleaguered public servant, wringing his hands in frustration over the army of lobbyists against whom he was claimed he powerless.
But now that’s he moved from Washington to Hollywood, he’s got a new script that calls for tough, public, bare-knuckled threats to the president of the United States.
And whatever he owes the American public for his perfidy as an elected official, we owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Because he has exposed the political system and the money that dominates it for what it is.
As Dodd has illustrated so eloquently, the Supreme Court got it wrong in their infamous Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to dump unlimited, unreported cash into our political system.
Money is not free speech. I don’t know whether Bob Dylan had Congress in mind when he sang nearly 30 years ago, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears,” but he was prophetic.
The impact of money in politics has put a curse on our democracy, and it won’t be lifted until we throw the corporations and the billionaires’ money out.
As Dodd’s remarks demonstrate, big money campaign contributions are a blunt force instrument, which corporate interests and the wealthy can use to control the politicians who depend on them for their livelihoods, as Dodd did when he was playing the part of the distinguished U.S. senator.
Rest assured, the people who gave him $48 million knew his real role was so serve them, whatever lines he was required to utter for the scene he was playing at the time.