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November 30, 2010

Dodd says goodbye, urges collegiality

Sen. Christopher Dodd said goodbye to the Senate Tuesday, warning that Washington is in danger of becoming "completely dysfunctional" and reminding colleagues that the Senate has long worked because senators learn to work together.

The 30-year Senate veteran offered his remarks in 20 emotion-packed minutes as his wife Jackie and their two young daughters looked on.

"Intense partisan polarization has raised the stakes in every debate and on every vote," he said. And that makes it "difficult to lose with grace and nearly impossible to compromsie without cost."

And, he warned, "Americans' distrust of politicians provides compelling incentives for senators to distrust each other."

Dodd has a reputation as someone who doesn't make enemies, who knowsthe value of getting 80 percent of what he wants and wooing Republicans to join him.

Remember the value of collegiality, he urged. "It has become commonplace to hear candidates for the Senate campaign on how they are going to Washington to shake things up all by themselves," he said. "May I politely suggest that you are seeking election to the wrong office."

Dodd, 66, is retiring after polling showed he'd have a difficult time winning re-election to another term. His successor, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, watched the speech from the third-floor Senate gallery.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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