Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Justin Miller has a great take this morning on Lou Dobbs as the anti-Palin. Excellent call. They both traffic in resentment, but Palin's is all personalized, while Dobbs has no interest, apparently, in that side of things.

There's a lot of talk now about Dobbs as a potential candidate for something, but whether he eventually runs or not, it's apt to be lots of bark and very little bite. He missed his ideal candidate and issue landscape for a third-party run last year; it's very unlikely that the next Republican nominee will be as immigrant-friendly as John McCain was, and for that matter I suspect that the next GOP nominee will be less of a free trader, at least in pre-election rhetoric. By 2012, either bailouts will be gone as an issue, or the Republican nominee will be stridently anti-bailout.

Had Dobbs run in 2008, he would have attracted a lot of attention, although the logic of the American electoral system means he would ultimately have received a relatively small number of votes -- almost certainly under 10%. His issue profile is a pretty good match for Ross Perot's 1992 and 1996 campaigns, right down to the flirtation with nutty conspiracy theories, although again he doesn't (as far as I know, and up to this point) personalize his conspiracies. That said, he's missing one of Perot's issues -- a long-standing commitment to veterans -- and more importantly he's missing the massive amounts of money that convinced the press to take Perot seriously.

Dobbs could choose to take advantage of the New York Republican Party's weakness and run for the Senate or for governor there, probably as a third-party candidate, but while it's possible to imagine him doing very well for an outsider, he wouldn't win, and the effort isn't likely to help him get whatever he's after (money? influence? fame?). So, if I had to guess, he'll flirt with that, and then flirt with running for president in 2012, but ultimately just wind up with book contracts and a show on Fox News (or Fox Business). If he does wind up running for president in 2012, he's apt to do about as well as Pat Buchanan in 2000. Hmmm...given that he's not going to be president regardless of what he does, his best bet for drawing maximum attention without seeming overly pathetic might be to enter the Democratic primaries; assuming unemployment is still high, I could see him getting 10-15% in a few states, and that would generate a fair amount of buzz.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting post, as ever, and the prospect of Dobbs running as a DEMOCRAT is so novel I'm amazed no one has thought of it before.

    Of course, that presumes Obama won't face a primary challenge in any case, which is a presumption I'm not necessarily prepared to make. McCain made some murmurings, or at least the press made some murmurings on his behalf, about 2004; Jesse Jackson, Bob Kerrey, Dick Gephardt and Bob Casey (who came closest) were all considered as possible contenders in 1996; and, of course, there was Buchanan.

    Russ Feingold's recent voting behaviour has been very intriguing to me, as he strikes a far more maverick line, even by his standards, than ever before. He seems to be constructing himself as the anti-pork, anti-stimulus (to some extent), anti-bailout candidate, probably just for Wisconsin consumption (although no serious opponent has emerged in his 2010 race) but potentially as a national contender, as well. Feingold's also taking a far more anti-war line on Afghanistan than any other national figure.

    I think Dobbs would only pick up support for people who wouldn't support Obama, no matter what. But if there were room for a challenge, it would be along precisely the lines Feingold is drawing: withdrawal from Afghanistan, an end to bailouts, a return to fiscal conservatism, and a much more aggressively liberal line on social issues.

    And, of course, Feingold has never been afraid of quixotic quests. This was the unknown state senator, after all, who took on a congressman and a millionaire and cruised to victory with 70% of the vote. And New Hampshire loves an underdog...


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