The Democratic and Republican Parties have become merely opposite wings of the same bird, and it’s the American people who are getting the bird as our elected officials serve their corporate masters and the special interest groups that dominate both parties. ~Lou Dobbs

Can Pat Buchanan sue for copyright infringement over this “wings of the same bird” rip-off?  In the original, it was “two wings the same bird of prey,” which was a much better way of putting it.  It seems, as virtually everyone has already noted, that Dobbs is floating the idea of an independent presidential bid when he says:

I believe the person elected a year from now will be an Independent populist, a man or woman who understands the genius of this country lies in the hearts and minds of its people and not in the prerogatives and power of its elites.

And again:

I believe next November’s surprise will be the election of a man or woman of great character, vision and accomplishment, a candidate who has not yet entered the race.

Okay, I guess he really believes it (and he really believes that he has a book that you’d like to buy), but it’s still not clear to me why he believes it.  Yes, foreign policy is a mess, the price of oil is staggering, the dollar is depreciating, people keep making unpleasant comparisons between the current state of the market and the autumn of 1987, and the economy may well be on the verge of recession.  But why should we expect there to be another Ross Perot-like figure leaping into the mix?  I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be a welcome development–it would be.  But I expect that the candidate would have to be quite wealthy and capable of self-financing the entire campaign, and you just don’t have that many billionaires who get worked up about the evils of corporate influence and mass immigration.  There is real support for strong restrictionist and “protectionist” policies out in the country (ground that the Democrats are already partly beginning to occupy on trade), but an independent who made his campaign primarily an anti-corporate, pro-sovereignty and anti-immigration one could not realistically expect a flood of large donations.  Only a Giuliani or McCain nomination on the GOP side could trigger the kind of mass exodus of restrictionist Republican voters that the Independent Populist of Great Character would need to make his candidacy competitive.  He would draw dissatisfied Democratic voters as well, but the core of this kind of independent bid would be Republican and independent restrictionists.  And what would the Independent Populist of Great Character’s foreign policy look like?  If it is deemed too “isolationist” by the great and the good (i.e., if it is sane on Iraq and Iran), he probably loses many of his nationalist, “Jacksonian” voters to the Republican, and if he is too jingoistic he will be even less popular than the Republicans.

P.S.  The scenario imagined by Dobbs’ friends, in which he enters the race after a Bloomberg candidacy starts, is also highly implausible, not least since Bloomberg will almost certainly not be running.  It also makes no sense–why would Dobbs wait until the man with virtually endless financial resources enters the race?  Dobbs would not only be letting Bloomberg steal his thunder, but guarantee that his campaign would be outmatched in resources by not just two established party candidates but by a billionaire as well.    The billionaire meanwhile frames his campaign around pragmatism and problem-solving and pulls away some significant portion of Dobbs’ protest vote (which is what some part of his support would be).