Friday, November 9, 2007

Lou Dobbs Interview

As host of CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Lou Dobbs delivers the news on a nightly basis. But lately Dobbs himself has been the one making the headlines over his staunch opposition to illegal immigrants.

His show, CNN’s second best rated, has created followers who have become known as ‘Lou Dobbs voters,’ meaning they’re middle class independents with concerns with issues like immigration, trade, and sovereignty.

In fact, the ‘Lou Dobbs voters’ are becoming major players in the political scene. In an October 22 article on titled, “ ‘Lou Dobbs voters’ will decide ‘08”, Christopher Gacek says, “CNN anchor Lou Dobbs may be the most important person in the 2008 presidential election aside from the candidates themselves.”

And that was even before his book was released.

His new book, Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit, which Dobbs will be signing November 28 at the DePaul Loop Center Barnes and Noble, covers the state of politics through the eyes of a self-proclaimed “independent populist.”

Dobbs says that he felt compelled to write the book because of the country’s path.

“Very simply, the country is heading in the wrong direction and a lot of people are suffering as a result of blind allegiance to partisanship and ideologies that have failed to produce answers over the last 30 years,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs concerned not only about the older generation, but to the youth today. He admits he doesn’t know what direction the college-aged generation is heading, and that he’s appalled at where his generation has taken the country.

“I’m frankly so concerned with my generation and it’s failure to deliver on the promises of the past 200 years in a time when our society for the past 20 years have simply been observing as individual rights and liberties have been constrained and equal opportunity both in education and economically have divided a large part of our society. That is going to be the challenge for your generation.”

In his book, Dobbs talks about the need for great leaders in America. He sees the 2008 election as one of the most important elections in history and the chance to change America’s course. However, he has been disappointed with the candidates, saying that “we’re still looking” for that great leader he talks about.

“There’s not a single clear choice of leader, whether Republican or Democrat, who has demonstrated great accomplishment in their lives, great capacity for leadership, and great character,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs says that there is more than just good candidates that are lacking, but the two political parties don’t offer the options that Americans need as well. In response, he has been encouraging people to register as independents for the last two years.

“Both parties are simply opposite wings of the same bird, and the American people are the ones getting the bird,” he said. “It’s critically important for young people to be independent thinkers, exercise independent critical judgment and stay away from the nonsense of partisanship, which is nothing more than a branding exercise and a fundraising organization.”

In fact Dobbs says that perhaps the two-party system has run it’s course and something new should be considered.

“Our political system is no longer one in which the consent of the governed is required or ‘we the people’ are leading the country toward its future,” Dobbs said. “The only way that’ll change is with a powerful third-party movement, simply to serve notice that they won’t be taken for granted or for the fools that they have been for the last 20 years by both of these parties.”

Dobbs has become defined by the issue of illegal immigration. In many senses, he has become a polarizing figure. On October 31, he called New York Governor Elliott Spitzer an ‘idiot’ for issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Although college students would probably say there are other issues more important than immigration, Dobbs says that illegal immigration and border security is important for all ages.

“The leadership of the Democratic party on Capitol Hill, and the Republican leadership in the executive branch are leading us through a global war on terror, but at the same time have not rationalized why they have left our borders unsecured and only 5 percent of incoming cargo inspected,” Dobbs said. “That’s an absurdity. Either it’s a phony war, or a war being fought by fools in the White House. Only time will judge which.”

Dobbs, like many, doesn’t like the current state of the country. He says that the youth’s bleak outlook at the future is justified, but when asked if he still has hope for the future, he gave a resounding answer.

“Hell yes, it’s America! Every one of us is fortunate to be in a country where we can seize our own destiny and create a future. But it’s not going to be handed to us, it’s going to require action, intelligent thought, reason, and coming together around our basic founding values, which are individual liberty and equality for all.”

But he says that if there is going to be change in America, the time to act is now.

“We can’t leave it to anyone else,” Dobbs said. “If another generation fails this nation as my generation has failed this nation, we are in serious trouble.”

Facebook Article

My friend Barack and I both like to listen to Bob Dylan. Waterskiing is not only my favorite water activity, but my buddy Mitt’s as well. Not only that, but my pal Rudy and I both love baseball.

Thanks to Facebook and MySpace, politicians can now reach the youth in whole new ways. With the success of these social networks, the candidates have turned to them for networking their own campaigns, and doing so in ways that appeal to the youth. For example, did you know John Edwards likes “The River” by Bruce Springsteen? I did, because I Facebooked him.

Facebook and MySpace make the candidates more real to students who are seemingly ignored by the campaigns. You can see that John McCain likes “Seinfeld,” making him that much more relatable, and one could argue, cooler. This is exactly what they’re hoping for. Even in the past two elections, internet campaigning hadn’t been fully embraced. Now candidates can post videos, messages, and list their favorite movies in order to get in touch with students - at little cost in time or money.

On Facebook, instead of the usual ‘friending’ of other members, the users are given to option to ‘support’ candidates of their liking. When you look at the numbers, it offers a surprising insight into college students. The top four of each party looks like this:


1. Obama – 144,650

2. Clinton – 41,967

3. Edwards – 18,962

4. Kucinich - 10,558


1. Paul 24,897

2. Romney – 17,667

3. Thompson – 14,845

4. McCain – 10,522

Compare those to a nationwide Gallup Poll.

Democrats – Sept. 13

1. Clinton - 45%

2. Obama - 24%

3. Edwards - 16%

4. Biden - 3%

Republicans – Sept. 12

1. Giuliani - 34%

2. Thompson - 22%

3. McCain - 15%

4. Romney - 10%

Notably, the top candidates on Facebook are not the top candidates for the national polls. In fact, the Republican’s leading Facebook candidate, Ron Paul, only has 1% in the Gallup Poll, while Gallup Republican leader Rudy Giuliani only has 2,643 supporters on Facebook. Why Giuliani is so popular with Gallup and not with Facebook, I’m not sure, but I’ll assume it’s because he says he’s a Yankees fan on his page.

It’s not surprising that Obama is leading, with the way the youth seem to view him, but the margin by which he’s winning is quite significant. Perhaps one explanation would be Facebook users tend to be liberal. DePaul’s network statistics look like this:

26% liberal or very liberal

11% are moderate

7% conservative or very conservative

5% other

1% libertarian

1% apathetic

46% no listed political affiliation

I was hoping to get a campaign to comment about the role of Facebook in the election, so I went to each candidate’s Facebook page and tried to email them. Obama and Thompson didn’t list an email address, Clinton’s and Edwards’ emails bounced back, and I didn’t hear back from the others. Makes you wonder how much they really care about being in touch with students.

Except for Ron Paul.

Jeff Frazee, National Youth Coordinate for the Paul campaign, responded. His position was created because of the “growing youth movement” for Paul, and in particular the way that the youth has responded to Paul online.

“We are using Facebook in a very large way to organize our Students for Ron Paul network. There is a national group that now has over 22,400 members and grows by about 1,000 per week. It has an extremely active forum and wall. It is the place to go for the latest news and information,” Frazee said. “From this group there is a link to ‘Join Your Students for Ron Paul Chapter.’ This page lists many of the Students for Ron Paul chapters we've started across the country. Students email me daily looking to start a chapter on their campus.”

Besides organizing, Facebook has become a fundraising tool for the Paul campaign. “Students organized mostly through the Facebook group to raise over $42,000 for the campaign. Since then, we have raised a few thousands more. And with the 3rd fundraising quarter ending at the end of this month,” Frazee said, “if we can hit our goal, this means students will have raised over $100,000 for this campaign since it first began. A feat no other candidate can match.”

What does it all mean? Maybe the youth vote means very little, considering the vast discrepancies between the two polls and how the candidates seemingly don’t want you to contact them. But then there are people like Ron Paul who are living off of the students support. The candidates have created these sites for the purpose of attracting the student vote, perhaps acknowledging that the role of the student will be significant after all.

Bill Clinton Interview

David Letterman. Larry King. Oprah. Me?

With a little, okay, a lot of luck, those would be people this month to interview Bill Clinton. He has been making the press rounds in support of his new book, “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World,” and would be stopping on his book tour Sept. 7 at the Borders on Michigan Avenue.

The idea crept into my head, what if I tried to interview him at the book signing? It was a long shot at best. Having been to a number of book signings, I knew I’d be lucky to get eye contact, much less an interview. I figured the absolute worst that could happen is he would say ‘no,’ or Secret Service would pummel me. But what did I have to lose? Plus a beat-down from the Secret Service would make great story.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and got to Borders at 7 a.m.. About 1,000 wristbands would be distributed at 8 a.m. for the 90 minute signing. I was about 50th in line. I was in for sure.

The crowd was diverse, from elderly women with walkers, to parents carrying infants, to the Northwestern medical students behind me. People said there were there for a chance to see a president, or to get an autograph that would be worth money. Everyone was talking about the looming election, with many debating between Hillary and Obama. It’s inevitable that wherever Bill goes, it’s somewhat campaigning for Hillary.

Now I had to kill four hours, so I dove into the book. It was not the easiest read on a couple hours sleep while sitting on a sidewalk outside. By 8:30 a.m., I was in the building and found a spot on the ground of the third floor where I would wait for President Clinton.

The book profiled people who have dedicated their lives to giving, from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to kids collecting pennies for Katrina victims. It was an inspiring read, although a little tedious. It could have used some horcruxes. I finished up the book a little after 10:30, giving me an hour to I fret over the exact words to say to him. I rehearsed my introduction and questions countless times, feeling like I was bound to mess up.

Outside a crowd formed to watch his arrival. Even the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup mascot looked on (there’s no wrong way to watch a Presidential entrance). President Clinton entered at noon and the crowd broke into applause.

As the line slowly moved, I became tense and thought maybe it would be better if he wouldn’t talk to me. Before I knew it, I handed my book to Secret Service to get signed.

President Clinton extended his hand as I walked toward him. I shook it, and blurted out my well practiced intro. He gave an interested “Yeah?” so I asked him if he felt college students could really change the world. He started talking. And talking. And talking. At the end of each sentence I expected him to push me along and get on with the signing. But he kept all 950 people in line behind me waiting and talked to me.

“A lot of people felt like I failed to mention the role of government in this book, and I have a whole chapter on and how our problems can’t be solved without government,” President Clinton said. “I think whether you have bad government policy or if you have good government policy there are still things the government can’t solve quite. Because of the rise of the internet there are non-governmental organizations that are solving problems that America is running away from.

The capacity here is far greater now than say, a few years ago. In my lifetime, you’ll have more power as private people to do public good on the global scale and the local scale than ever before. That’s what I really believe. We’ve got over 800,000 people in over 71 countries now getting AIDS medicine that’s about as good as it gets in those countries. It’s because of the way we are organized. Its one thing about the Bush administration I really do like, it just shows you what you can do if you really get after it.”

He didn’t answer my question, but I was thrilled anyways. I tried a quick follow up about the student’s role in the election; he misunderstood and thought I asked about his role. “If I’m asked, I’ll do whatever I can,” he said.

I thanked him and as I walked away, I was mobbed by reporters (my quotes and photo would appear on the Tribune’s site within hours). After waiting an excruciating and never-wrecking five hours, I asked myself if it was really worth it.

You bet it was.