A Change of Heart for Lou Dobbs?

It’s often been said that only fools and dead men don’t change their minds, and perhaps Lou Dobbs wants to show he is neither.

With his recent departure from the anchor’s desk at CNN, Lou Dobbs presumably has had plenty of time to think about – and perhaps rethink – the strident positions he has taken on immigration reform up to now. (See MurthyBlog, Nov 24, 2009). A recent Political Intelligence column in The Boston Globe said that a major anti-immigrants group – one that was promoting Dobbs as a presidential candidate in 2012 – withdrew its support from Dobbs following comments he made in an interview with Spanish-language broadcaster, Telemundo. (See “Hard-Line Immigration Group Pulls Backing from Dobbs,” by Foon Rhee, Political Intelligence column of The Boston Globe, Dec 3, 2009.)

According to the Globe, Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC), was upset with Dobbs’s comments about the need for “…rational, effective and humane immigration policy in this country,” and “…the ability to legalize immigrants on certain conditions.” This apparently treaded too close to advocating a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, too close for the comfort of ALIPAC, in any case, which pulled the plug on two pro-Dobbs websites, according to the Globe, and on a fundraising operation that already had raised more than $660,000 to support a possible Dobbs run for the presidency in 2012.

Does this means that Lou Dobbs will actively promote the “path to citizenship,” when the immigration reform debate takes center stage again? It seems unlikely, but one never knows. Perhaps Mr. Dobbs is starting to appreciate the complexity of immigration policy, now that he’s no longer the ringmaster of a three-ring shoutfest on CNN. While it is a shame that Mr. Dobbs’s regular viewers couldn’t have heard his more nuanced comments to Telemundo, there is hope yet that his public rethinking of the immigration issue might prompt his erstwhile audience to do the same. The issue has never been as simple as the loudest voices would have you believe. Now that he’s freed from the big-network ratings treadmill, perhaps Lou Dobbs can contribute to a less heated discussion of immigration reform, wherever he next finds a microphone.

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