APPARENTLY, I MISSED THE BIG NEWS, when it came out nearly a month ago that CNN anchor Lou Dobbs had waved off suggestions that he might run for President. That's right, of the United States.
"I'm an advocacy journalist," Dobbs told the Detroit Free Press. "I cannot imagine being a candidate for any office and certainly not president. I would be the candidate of last resort."
Any real, self-effacing "journalist" would have merely laughed at the question. But Dobbs had to give some justification as to why he wouldn't run. "I'm an advocacy journalist!"
(Well, at least Dobbs is honest about one thing: there's nothing objective or dispassionate about his rants on CNN prime business show. It's advocacy! Now it can be told! One has to wonder how the Cable NEWS Network can continue to justify what Dobbs does as news. What it must certainly be is a ratings grabber, which is the only reason I can think CNN would continue to leave him on the air, particularly in such a prominent time slot.)
But the Free Press interview was then. This is now. Like a latter-day Ted Baxter, so giddy that anyone would even suggest he run for President, Dobbs recently told the Wall Street Journal, "I cannot say never."
Reminds me a bit of the time many years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger, appearing on the David Letterman Show, said with a straight face, "I am the best thing that ever happened to the Kennedy family." Like Dobbs's statement to the Journal, that line got a huge laugh. But the difference is that Schwarzenegger was joking -- spoofing himself, really.
Dobbs's sense of self-importance also rose its ugly head when he told the Free Press last month: "These two parties are great about discussing wedge issues like gun control, or abortion or gay marriage but have little to offer in dealing with issues and challenges that matter to most people like free trade or illegal immigration."
I'm not sure that free trade or illegal immigration are issues that matter most to most Americans, though they're important. There's no doubt, however, that Dobbs has done a brilliant job of whipping a committed core of Americans who do care about these issues into a frenzy. Many people give him a lot of credit -- along with many of the other disingenuous talk show shouters -- for derailing the comprehensive federal immigration reform bill that was up for consideration on Capitol Hill last year.
And, because the federal government is now doing nothing to address a policy matter that should have been fixed a long time ago, Dobbs and his posse are beating up on the feds and Congress for, what else, doing nothing. If this problem of immigration policy ever got fixed, what would Dobbs have to talk about? Oh, of course, the evils of outsourcing.
What he probably won't acknowledge is that most of those Americans who care about the immigration problem don't really agree with where him and other restrictionists on some core points. As the Pew Research Center found in a survey last June, while many Americans were ambivalent about whether the immigration reform bill was a good one (regardless of political affiliation, only about a third favored it and large percentages -- about one quarter to one third, depending upon affiliation -- were undecided), most favored "a way for people who are in this country illegally to gain legal citizenship under certain conditions," according to the Pew Research Center's findings.
"Overall, 63 percent of the public -- and nearly identical numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents -- favor such an approach if illegal immigrants 'pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs,'" the Pew Research Center concluded.
What's more, according to the survey, "In general, the public is less supportive of providing 'amnesty' for illegal immigrants than it is of providing a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship. Even so, a majority of Americans (54 percent) say they favor amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country if they pass background checks and meet other conditions."
If that's the case, then why are the presidential candidates -- especially the Republicans -- contorting themselves to avoid saying anything about immigration, let alone utter the word "amnesty?" Maybe they're worried that Dobbs if takes himself so seriously, he'll actually run for President.