I like Chris Dodd, but politically he's seemed to be stuck in Mike Huckabee mode: everybody seems to be a fan, but nobody thinks he can win, so he can't get any traction. At the last debate I watched, I thought he gave a solid performance, but he also won the award for most "who's that guy?" from my friends (aside from Mike Gravel, of course).
But lately, the Dodd campaign has been showing some life. RCP wonders if Dodd is becoming the candidate of the netroots -- this cycle's Howard Dean. In the latest Daily Kos straw poll, Dodd surged from single digits to a 21% share of the vote -- second place behind John Edwards (31%) and comfortably ahead of Obama (16%) and Clinton (9%). This followed the announcement of Kos himself that he cast his first vote in the poll for Dodd back in September. Others are giving Dodd a second look as well: For example, Scott Lemieux says he's "getting pretty close to endorsing Dodd."
Perhaps more importantly, Dodd is beginning to drive the movement of other Democratic contenders. He was the first to announce that he was going to filibuster the telecom amnesty bill, a position that Clinton and Obama now are (sort of) adopting. He was way out in front of the other presidential candidates in terms of trying to repeal the abysmal Military Commissions Act. And in general, he's been one of the few candidates who hasn't designed his whole campaign around defusing the "Democrats want America to die in a terrorist strike." Which isn't to say he doesn't take foreign policy seriously: he just knows that it's a false choice between keeping America safe, and keeping America America.
I give Dodd a lot of credit. His campaign is rejuvenating itself, not because of reckless pandering, and not because he's got a big name. It's coming into its own because he's willing to take the right stands, at the right time, for the right reasons. That's a quality I like in a President. And Chris Dodd deserves another look from all those Democrats (including myself) who have thus far restricted ourselves to the "top-tier" crew.