Columnist Gail Collins whistled past the Democratic Party's political graveyard once again.
In Thursday's "Oh, Byron, We Hardly Knew Ye" (the reference is to purportedly obscure Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota) Collins used sarcasm to downplay the surprise retirements of Democratic senators Dorgan, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, implying that the movies didn't at all foreshadow looming Democratic losses in 2010.
Collins, who served as editor of the Times' editorial page for six years, took the same sarcastic tack back in November after Republicans scored big wins in the governors races in New Jersey and Virginia:
The defeat of Gov. Jon Corzine made it clear that the young and minority voters who turned out for Obama will not necessarily show up at the polls in order to re-elect an uncharismatic former Wall Street big shot who failed to deliver on his most important campaign promises while serving as the public face of a state party that specializes in getting indicted.
After mocking Sen. Dorgan's insignificance in her Thursday column, Collins spun Dodd's retirement as a good thing for the Democrats:
Senator Byron Dorgan is retiring! I know this comes as a shock to you, people. Also Senator Chris Dodd! We are only one week into the new year, and the political world is in turmoil. It's a wonder we can continue on with our regular duties.
Two Democratic senators quitting is seen as a terrible portent for 2010. ("Democrats' Black Tuesday," said a headline on MSNBC.) That seems a tad overblown given the fact that six Republican senators already have announced their retirements.
Plus, Dodd has been in terrible trouble back home ever since he ran for president and tried to get a jump on the competition by moving his family to Iowa. Connecticut has feelings, too. When your senator registers his daughter in kindergarten in Des Moines, the voters in Bridgeport don't feel the love.
It's really all good for the Nutmeg State Democrats. Dodd can leave with dignity. He has an overall record to be proud of, including a major role in health care reform. He also worked very hard on issues that have no political payoff whatsoever, like early childhood education.