A populist Frankenstein

The Hollywood-averse Republicans are becoming contemporary masters of celebrity in the realm of politics. Sarah Palin, Beck, and Dobbs are imperfect, incremental steps toward the perfect Republican candidate. Even Obama’s eloquence is no match for their breathtakingly expressive one-dimensionality.

If the celebrity Dobbs thinks that he is going to turn his audience of bigots and dunderheads into a broad political base, he is grossly deluded. But in terms of demagogue potential, he is several steps ahead of the celebrity Beck—the histrionic Beck’s downfall would be his attempt at a candidate’s sincerity—and one or two ahead of celebrity Palin. The most effective anti-elitists are also themselves elitists, and Dobbs is a graduate of Harvard and a media aristocrat, having been with CNN since just about the cable network’s beginning. He can perform the common man, without making the common man’s mistakes of guileless self-presentation.

Neither Palin nor Dobbs has any type of political future—the former because of her ignorance and thin skin, the latter because of his bigot’s baggage. But if you surround Dobbs’ brain with Palin’s sensual warmth, add Beck’s acting skills, top it all off with the moderate-seeming polish of a Mitt Romney, and then throw in a dash of the new Newt Gingrich’s “ideas” and “skepticism” and “detachment,” you’ll have something like the populist Frankenstein that will, tragically, come to dominate American politics.