LatinaLista — When Lou Dobbs abruptly resigned from CNN on November 11, 2009, no one expected him to go quietly away.
Nor did anyone expect the guy, who touted his marriage to a Latina in the same breath that he distorted the facts about undocumented immigrants, to turn a new leaf when it comes to his views on illegal immigration.
Yet, in news reports from the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times to the AP, speculation is rampant on why Dobbs is suddenly painting himself as the new BFF to the Latino community.
The answer has less to do with turning over a new leaf and everything to do with listening to his advisors who must be telling him that if he really wants to explore the political opportunities before him, that he alluded to in his sign-off from CNN, he needs Latino votes — especially since he’s going after the office of a popular Latino politician.
It’s being reported that Dobbs is seriously thinking about challenging NJ Senator Robert Menendez. Down the road, he wants to run for President of the United States.
Nobody doubts that Dobbs would pursue either political course or that he would garner votes from those viewers who stuck with him faithfully at CNN, but even with him now saying he would support a possible legalization plan for undocumented immigrants, Latino voters have to be wary.
It’s just not enough for Mr. Dobbs to make the rounds of Spanish and English television talk shows and proclaim that he was misunderstood all those years on CNN. He was perfectly understood — heard and recorded too. Something which no doubt will come back to haunt him.
What no one understands is the depth of his sincerity now.
It’s hard to erase the images of him sitting behind his CNN desk and bullying guests who advocated for undocumented immigrants or refusing to back down when confronted on the untrue comments he made on his show.
It’s hard to reconcile that image with the current public persona that he’s trying to convey to show that he’s a “new” man.
Yet, Dobbs isn’t a new man. He’s practicing something that he used for years on his show to get people to see things his way. Only now, he’s practicing it in reverse — say something often enough and people will believe it’s true.
Dobbs did that with every distortion of the facts when it came to illegal immigration. He misrepresented the truth so often that conservatives never checked the facts but wholly believed what Dobbs regurgitated on his show.
Now, Dobbs is hoping to repeat his success. Make the rounds of TV and radio talk shows often enough and repeat the same message over and over, and after awhile people will forget how he fueled the divide in the immigration debate and think he was always a crusader for immigrants’ rights.
It’s a great strategy but it won’t work this time.
For one, Dobbs doesn’t have a daily influential platform from which to repeat his message.
Secondly, an annoying characterization of the Latino community is that we don’t forget and grudges are a part of life.
Third, resentment builds exponentially when it’s discovered the Latino community is being used for the gains, political or otherwise, to advance certain interests.
But for those who wish to believe the best in people and that Dobbs could have come to see the luz (light), then there is a very simple way to gauge this man’s sincerity — his response to undocumented immigrants being allowed to purchase health coverage through the exchange with their own money and how he will speak out on immigration reform when it comes up in Congress.
If Dobbs wants to befriend the Latino community, he doesn’t have the luxury of keeping silent on either issue just because he no longer has a cable television show of his own anymore. Now, more than ever, he must speak and this time around, Latinos everywhere can’t wait to hear what he says.