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.
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.