Snarky Behavior

Dobbsian theory

July 6, 2007 · 1 Comment


Journalism.org reports that CNN’s Lou Dobbs reaped a ratings bonanza during his coverage of the proposed Immigration Bill that was browbeaten to death in Congress last week.

In the last three months, from April 1-June 29, Dobbs devoted more than a quarter (26%) of the airtime on his nightly show to immigration. (That’s almost twice as much attention as he gave to the next leading subject, the Iraq war policy debate.)

A quick autopsy on the life and death of Kennedy’s Immigration Bill will tell you that the talking heads on the political right (led by Dobbs) singled out the “amnesty” portion of the bill, and gave marching orders to its minions of letter-writers to shoot the bill down.

Once a watchdog of corporate malpractice, Dobbs has remade his career the old-fashioned way… exploiting xenophobia. (It’s easy to pick on people who have no legal rights). At the same time, Dobbs has managed to maintain his “populist” “war on the middle-class” position, hammering domestic manufacturing industries for shipping jobs over-seas.

Lou Dobbs is the embodiment of Dani Rodrik’s impossibility theorem, which states that “democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.”

Dobbs wants to have his cake and eat it too. That is, he wants to be a small “d” democrat, a nationalist, and a populist at the same time. He sells his brand of snake-oil to an audience eager to believe its feasible for Americans to win-win-win on every front in the face of global competition, without sacrificing on any level.

Does this mean we’ve completely departed from an era where our leaders ask us to sacrifice for the sake of our collective best interests? Is the only acceptable brand of rhetorical politicking now class war-fare, taxing the wealthiest and denying benefits from the poorest? What happened to Roosevelt’s “Call for Sacrifice” or Kennedy’s “Ask Not…” premises?

You know what happened? It went out the window post 9/11, when we asked our president what we could do to help, and he advised: “Keep spending…the American economy will be open for business.”

Color me inspired.

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1 response so far ↓

  • Rohit // July 9, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Reply

    For once, I don’t have the patience to compose a long-winded (yet, still fundamentally worthless) response: Dobbs is an idiot.

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