September 29, 2007


Father Dobbs: Assaulting CNN audiences with bossy harangues, Lou Dobbs has remained unruffled by conflict and become a major weight on public opinion (James Wolcott, September 28, 2007, Vanity Fair)

If Lou Dobbs were any more full of himself, the tub would overflow. In the autumn resplendence of his telecasting career, Dobbs's self-regard, never meek or slender, has ripened into the pompatus of love. I am Lou, hear me moo, in numbers too big to eschew. It isn't just that the ratings for CNN's starship enterprise Lou Dobbs Tonight have been climbing while those of other cable news shows are being intubated, but that his force of personality and power of persuasion have elevated him to the status of a major public-opinion shaper—a heavy-lumber political slugger. If he were a Robert Ludlum hero, this chapter of his life could be called "The Dobbs Supremacy." It was Dobbs more than any other tongue flapper who put the kibosh on the Dubai-ports deal by flogging it as a risk to national security and economic sovereignty, not to mention a rude slap in the honest face of every hardworking American, which leaves out a few people I happen to know, including me. "For fifteen evenings," Ken Auletta wrote in The New Yorker, "Dobbs spoke about 'the outrage' of allowing a Middle Eastern country 'with ties to the September 11 terrorists' to operate six American ports. Dobbs certainly was not the only person to raise questions, but the resulting furor eventually prompted Dubai to abandon the plan." The scuttling of the Dubai-ports deal was a warm-up bout to Dobbs's biggest feat of strength so far, his duel in the dust with the comprehensive immigration reform bill that was the darling dream baby of President Bush—his last big domestic achievement before returning to Crawford, Texas, to enter that long night of the iguana. As we know, the bill croaked after one of those cloture votes that lend such cliff-hanging suspense to the legislative process. Although the conservative bloggers and talk-radio caterwaulers, tweaking their nipples and twirling their jockstraps, indulged in yet another orgy of triumphalism as they inflated the magnitude of their heroic role in murdering this bill in its cradle (overcome with vapors, National Review Online contributor Mark Krikorian compared the bill's defeat to General Washington's staunch performance at the Battle of Monmouth, in 1778), it was the anti-Establishment establishmentarians of the mainstream media, in the persons of Dobbs and MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan, who were the true picadors, pricking this bipartisan package as an "amnesty" bill to the frustration of its advocates and drawing first blood. "Pitchfork Pat" Buchanan's nativism has always been a niche product, however. Dobbs commands a higher, wider seat of authority, no pun intended. Presiding over the recurring segment "Broken Borders" (cue night-vision footage of Mexicans climbing over and under fences, crossing ravines, running in a crouch), Dobbs has been the chief architect in constructing the ominous, dystopian specter of illegal immigration as home invasion on an epic scale, tracking crime, disease, and rampant illiteracy across our clean floors.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 29, 2007 7:07 AM

Whoever wrote this used up Vanity Fair's entire stock of metaphors in one long, rambling paragraph.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 29, 2007 7:51 AM

Did Wolcott just call someone else fat?

Posted by: Benny at September 29, 2007 5:26 PM