Run, Lou, Run!

Hope you're not drinking any hot liquids, but apparently Lou Dobbs is weighing a presidential run. (Cue spit-take!) Yes, Dobbs, famous antagonist of immigrants and populist demagogue, thinks he may be made of White House timber. From across the pond, Alex Massie observes that this can only be good for President Barack Obama's presumed re-election bid:

Sure, the President will take his fair share of lumps from Dobbs and he'll lose some Rust-belt voters too. But Dobbs's appeal, should he run, will be heavily concentrated amongst white, non-college educated men. And since that's a much more important constituency for the Republican party than it is for the Democrats then it makes sense for the White House to welcome Dobbs to the festivities and the race.

But Massie forgets another key point: A Dobbs run would immediately activate Hispanic voters who are predominately Democratic Party supporters. In 2008, Hispanics went for Obama 67 to 31 percent. Next time around, they'll be a much larger chunk of the electorate -- Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing populations in the country -- and, if Dobbs runs, not only will they be weighing all of the issues that are important to all voters, they'll also be facing a candidate whose careless smears of illegal immigrants and embrace of Minutemen groups have made him a symbol of xenophobia. If that doesn't boost turnout among that community on Election Day, I don't know what will.

At the end of the day, of course, Dobbs probably won't run. And if he does, he'll likely flame out -- simply because most media and entertainment personalities don't have the humility to handle a serious political campaign. Although politicians are known for their arrogance, to succeed in that game you need to be willing to bow and scrape for votes, meet and charm hundreds of local officials, get blasted in the media, have your shortcomings highlighted relentlessly by your own campaign staff (not to mention your opponents), and basically be uncomfortable for about a year. Some compare Dobbs to Al Franken, but if anything can prepare you for the hustings, it is trying to make it as a stand-up comic. I doubt Dobbs can handle that kind of pressure.

-- Tim Fernholz

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