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Sen. Chris Dodd, a "Happy Warrior" Democrat in a "Joyous Orbit"

Reporter Mark Leibovich isn't quite as kind to conservative Republicans as he is to liberal Democrats like Sen. Dodd.

Reporter Mark Leibovich showed some love to long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Sen Christopher Dodd in Saturday's "'Top Tier' Candidate? Maybe Not, but Dodd Is Still Enjoying the Ride." The story's text box captured the oh-boy enthusiasm of Leibovich's piece: "An experienced and telegenic senator who is a happy warrior, despite the polls."


"There could be a certain poignancy to Mr. Dodd's enterprise, the narrative of a man who has waited his whole career to do this - maybe too long, past his time - and who, for whatever reason, is not catching on. In the shoes of another character, someone who takes himself more seriously than Mr. Dodd does, it could be sad. Indeed, he could be bitter that the so-called top tier of candidates, his Senate colleagues Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and his former colleague John Edwards, have a combined tenure in the chamber barely half Mr. Dodd's 26 years.


"As he ambles through the early voting states, there is a decided 'Why the heck not?' feel to Mr. Dodd's joyous orbit. As in, why the heck shouldn't Chris Dodd run for president, and enjoy the heck out of the ride?


"At 62, this could be Mr. Dodd's last chance to run. He is intent to hang around, to wear well, and he hopes, to get Democrats to say: What the heck? Why not Dodd? He is experienced, telegenic and could hold his own in any popularity contest on Capitol Hill. Which might be a handicap, but what the heck?


Leibovich can't even come out and state the obvious - that Dodd is a liberal Democrat (Dodd has a lifetime rating of 8 out of a possible 100 from the American Conservative Union). Leibovich merely states that Dodd is (perhaps mistakenly?) perceived as one:


"He is a throwback to a presanctimonious era when politicians were not so intent on fashioning themselves outsiders and anti-politicians. There is no sexy novelty in Mr. Dodd's candidacy. He is yet another New England Democrat perceived as an establishment liberal. He would not be the first woman, black, Hispanic or Mormon to inhabit the White House. White male senators always run for president, almost as reliably as they lose."


Leibovich concluded with an anecdote calculated to charm:


"Strolling around the Nashua fire station, hands crammed in pockets, he was looking slightly bored, or perhaps tired. It was about 10 a.m.; he is not much of a morning guy. He dutifully viewed the fire station's state-of-the-art exhaust system, the defibrillator machine, the dive suit.


"At the far end of the garage is the Hazmat truck, which ferried beer in a previous life, and Mr. Dodd perked up.


"'This used to be a beer truck?' he said. 'Is there any beer left?'


"Everyone laughs, none louder than the senator."


Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also got soft treatment last November.


Contrast those examples with how Leibovich has treated Republican congressmen. He lambasted Rep. James Sensenbrenner last Julyafterhe had thenerve to lobby against illegal immigration and suggested Sensenbrenner had no business even having an opinion on the matter.


"A bipartisan irritant from a state nowhere near the Mexican border, he has outsize influence on the fate of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.


"In each portrait in his office, Mr. Sensenbrenner appears regal and contented - in contrast to the rumpled and fed-up image he conveys in real life. He is commonly described as 'prickly,' 'cantankerous' and 'unpleasant.'"