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Nov. 11 2009 - 8:24 pm | 77 views | 2 recommendations | 13 comments

Lou Dobbs’s resignation from CNN could be a disaster for the GOP

So, there you have it – Media Matters for America and ‘Basta Dobbs’ win. Lou Dobbs is leaving his show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, after anchoring programming for the CNN for most of the past 30 years.

Dobbs trotted out a conservative fanboy from the American Spectator to say that political correctness was trying to push Dobbs off television. He wrapped Dobbs in the flag and argued that the massacre of US service-members at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Hasan was the same thing that has happened to Dobbs. It was kind of depressing, and shows the logic of victimhood that political conservatism all too often offers up as its raison d’etre.

Washington, UNITED STATES: Lou Dobbs, anchor a...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

The news anchor tried to insinuate that the future focus of his career will go beyond the news media, according to this quip captured in the New York Times:

Some leaders in the media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and engage in constructive problem-solving.

I don’t think that means Dobbs is going to run for political office. By the time 2012 comes along, Dobbs will be close to 70 years old, and past the time in his life when he could be an effective politician. However, Dobbs can serve effectively as a lightning rod on a variety of political issues, including but not limited to immigration.

This is where I think the peril will come up for the Republican Party. The anti-illegal immigrant animus in America does not really have an effective leader at this moment in time, and that has kept it from being a stronger litmus test for candidates for offices. Sure, there’s Tom Tancredo, but he can’t control his temper and demonstrated his ineffectiveness on the campaign trail before we even got to 2008. He just doesn’t inspire a crowd.

Dobbs can. He will be able to put a well-liked (among some people) national face on the immigration debate. And if he chooses to do so, he can mainstream the rage behind the Minuteman movement. Using his radio program, speaking engagements, and campaign appearances, he can help build momentum for Republican candidates for office who take a hardline against moderate immigration policy reforms like the type that Senator McCain attempted to pursue from 2005 to 2007. By doing that, he’ll hem the Republican Party in, sustaining its distancing from the country’s growing Latino (particularly Mexican-American) population as they become more and more important as a voting bloc in America.

A lot of Republican politicians simply won’t be able to win primaries any longer when Dobbs helps their opponents campaign against them. And that will add to the number of litmus tests any particular Republican hopeful has to pass in their quest for elected office, pushing them more toward the outer edges of the right wing. In purplish Congressional districts and states, the GOP will find themselves floundering against moderate, well-financed Democrats who are able to mobilize more blocs of voters against them.

So what will Dobbs do first? I guess you’ll have to tune into his radio show to find out. But whatever he does, expect him to charge in quickly to the 2010 fray as he hopes to transform himself into a political gamechanger.


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  1. collapse expand

    Please tell me what you are smoking. Very strong stuff. God bless. You need help.

  2. collapse expand

    My guess is with the way the country’s political discourse has gone in the last few years, navel-gazers like Dobbs won’t have much traction on anyone’s campaigns. Even if Tancredo could have cooled his heels and be articulate, it just seems like there are too many different subjects to chip away at (health care, taxes, domestic security, wars overseas, ect.) for anyone to expect to get too far in the polls by hopping up and down on just one wedge issue like immigration.

  3. collapse expand

    I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion, but you bring attention to an important point. Immigration will be the ultimate wedge issue in our society as employment continues to underperform. I think that the Democrats have more to lose on this issue. It’s the traditional labor base that is hurting in the jobless “recovery”, and immigrants will be the first target as resentment of unemployment rises. Add in Islamic immigrants as a target, and the multi-culturalism of the liberal intelligentsia will be a massive wedge at the heart of the Democratic caucus. With a pissed-off Lou Dobbs leading a “non-partisan” charge, Obama and the legislative Democrats had better drop everything to get people jobs or 1994 will look like a picnic compared to 2010.
    BTW, I’m a child of immigrants and an aficionado of different cultures. I disagree strongly with Lou Dobbs’s attitude, but history shows that the last people on the bus draw an unfair share of the resentment when the going gets crowded.

    • collapse expand

      As far as the 2008 election went, it was helpful of course that Senators McCain and Obama weren’t too far off from one another on the issue. But I’m not sure I agree with you that it will be a big wedge issue among Democrats. Gallup polled the issue this summer and it showed a wild swing against immigration among Republicans. Certainly, Democrats and independents are less supportive of immigration than they were pre-recession, but that poll shows a less intense shift among anti-immigration passions in those categories.

      So that’s why I think this is a bigger problem for the GOP than for Democrats. It’s not a core concern for them like it is for Republicans.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    keep spreading the words of Hope
    Lou Dobbs for president of The United States, say it over and over again till it comes true!

  5. collapse expand

    A question not asked is: “How will this affect Blue Dog Democrats”?

    Most citizens do not want amnesty of any form or by any name. The political liberal and business elites want it, which is the only reason the issue draws any political traction. Left to the voters, there would be deportation and not amensty.

    So what does a Democrat do in a distict that is moderate to conservative. Believe me, in many areas of the country this will be a real testing point. And by Obama bringing it up in an election year, well, let’s say, it will be most interesting.

    • collapse expand

      I don’t think many Blue Dogs will have trouble moving to the right on immigration reform – after all, they’ve done so on abortion, health care reform, etc. I guess I’m more curious to know whether or not Obama will feel compelled in any way to raise the issue in ‘10 or even ‘12 for that matter – it sounds more like a second term issue.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Mr. Roston,

        If it were not for the fact that Obama will attempt to deliver a lot of pork to Blue Dog’s in order for them to vote his way, I would say you’re right. However, the President does have the taxpayer’s money and it is a powerful force.

        Also note that Owens in NY23 was against the public option and against any plan that would cut Medicare- at least when he was running. Once elected, he followed the party line and voted for it. As Joe Wilson might say- “You Lie.”

        Should Obama make this a 2nd term issue. Politically he should. But he is committed to the pro-amnesty (basically Hispanic) crowd and he feels he must deliver fast.

        At least that is the way I see it.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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