Chris Dodd, sounding like a pundit instead of a voting member of Congress, downplayed the prospect of Elizabeth Warren’s nomination to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by doubting whether she can be confirmed.

A key Democratic senator this morning dealt a blow to the hopes of many liberals that Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren would be chosen as the first head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said he doubted that Warren, a favorite of liberals, could be confirmed by the Senate. The CFPA is a key piece of the financial reform bill passed last week and is to be signed Wednesday by President Obama.

Dodd made his comments on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show on Washington public radio station WAMU. Asked about Warren, who is chairing a special commission created to oversee the bank bailouts, Dodd said that “no idea is terribly creative if it can’t sell” and he asked rhetorically about Warren, “Is she confirmable?”

I’m sure Dodd will do so much to make sure she’s confirmable, by, you know, voting to confirm her and encouraging his colleagues to do the same, right?

This is a cop-out. Dodd doesn’t want to take a vote on Warren because he doesn’t want consumer protection to get all, you know, protection-y. So he relies on Republican obstruction to ensure her defeat.

I would remind people that confirmability didn’t prevent Donald Berwick from his nomination to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nor did it stop President Obama from giving a recess appointment. On a position so crucial to the big reform bill passed earlier in the year, Obama made the decision that having the best person for the job in place was more important than comity, and he used the tools at his disposal to get it done. If he truly cared about protecting consumers, he could do the same thing. And Dodd’s carping about “confirmability” would be irrelevant.

David Dayen

David Dayen