Sen. Christopher J. Dodd went one contrivance too far last week at his carefully choreographed press event to explain his mortgage deals with Countrywide Financial. Dodd has engaged in so many contradictions in trying to manage the gathering storm that he probably did not recognize his stunning blunder.
At his Monday event, Dodd wouldn't let reporters have copies of the selected documents he let them glimpse. Instead, Dodd released a report from a Chicago firm hired with campaign funds to review his mortgage transactions. The report is carefully constructed to vindicate the Dodds and even make them appear to have fared worse than many other borrowers. It includes references to "detailed evaluation" of internal Countrywide documents that the mortgage giant used in processing the Dodds' applications for more than $800,000 in loans. The firm hired by Dodd, it's clear, had documents from Countrywide.
The report, which Dodd evidently sees as his invulnerable Maginot Line, is dated July 22, 2008. There is no indication that it has been updated or changed since then. On Friday, July 25, 2008, The Courant quoted Dodd declaring, "We've had very little response from" Countrywide to his request for information. He wanted to wait to release information "to make sure we have the full picture." The report Dodd distributed Monday had already been completed for three days when he made those comments.
Dodd knew at the end of July that not only had he obtained internal Countrywide documents that he now relies on for his murky defense, but he also had to have known that those documents had been given to a financial firm to review and apply to the market conditions that existed in 2003.
Maybe last Monday he forgot what he'd said at the end of July, since it was one more invention in eight months of them. Perhaps Dodd thought no one would compare the dates. Someone in his office or at the law firm he's hired to represent him must have known Dodd risked revealing the grimy truth Monday when he trotted out that report.
Monday's revelation tells us something we are reluctant to conclude about a leader: We cannot believe Christopher Dodd.
I'm not reluctant about not believing him.