Well, “should” rarely enters into the decision, I realize. But among the theories propounded by Dobbs’ resignation from CNN—and prompted by his vague reference to seeking “options” in the public sphere—is that he’s considering running for office. Salon’s Joe Conason thinks he may be thinking of running for The Big One.
So when I say “should” here, I mean not whether you’d vote for him, but could he make a credible candidate?
Conason’s a liberal, so there is probably an element of wishful thinking in his column. A candidate like Dobbs would probably have a better shot at a third-party run than at a big-party nomination, and—though it’s hard to predict exactly how these things play out—Dobbs himself would seem to draw more from Republicans than Democrats.
Who knows what politics will be like by 2012, but judging by the resentment in the body politic right now—some of it, like anger over bailouts, cutting across party lines—it looks like it could be a ripe time for an independent candidacy. And a media background is not the worst basis on which to build one. (Not just for indies, either—Mike Huckabee is not on Fox because he wants to host game shows someday.) It’s reasonable that a media bigshot might be the person to try to grab free-floating voters in ’12. (Reasonable enough that Fox News chief Roger Ailes recently knocked down rumors that he was thinking about it.)
I doubt Dobbs is that guy. His politics (heavy on middle-class resentment and suspicion) may be right for it. But I don’t think he has the fan base or, more important, the broader charisma, to make any kind of serious run. If he couldn’t even mount a serious challenge of Fox News in his timeslot, can he really expect to worry President Obama and the Republican nominee?
Dobbs does not strike me as a man of small ego, though, so he may estimate his mass appeal rather more highly than I do. For that matter, if you’re a reasonably talented media demagogue of any stripe, you’ve got to be thinking that this is your moment.
But who? Rush Limbaugh, his huge fanbase aside, may be too closely identified as Republican. Glenn Beck’s got the heat, but his self-deprecating habit seems to preclude claiming that he could run the country. Is there any media figure out there you think a substantial enough number of people could pull the lever for? And is there any one whom you’d pull the lever for?