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Dobbs: Pundits take it in the teeth

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  • Political pundits took one in the teeth last night
  • Media now need to summon courage to report on issues
  • Real change in nation's direction unlikely after this election
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By Lou Dobbs
CNN
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Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on CNN.com.

Dobbs

Lou Dobbs says the people are losers when the national media try to pick winners so early in the election season.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Many of our political savants and pundits took one in the teeth last night. I couldn't be happier about last night's surprising results, and not because I favor one candidate or another. I'm just glad the so-called experts in the national media were wrong about their premature assumptions that the Democratic and Republican nominations for president were a done deal.

If it had been that easy, why did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each raise more than $100 million last year to campaign for the White House? By some estimates, this presidential campaign will cost both political parties and their candidates $1 billion. I don't know about you, but that seems just a little excessive to me. If we already knew who the presidential candidates were going to be, as those pundits and savants on television had suggested all week, what are they spending all that money on?

Obama is still flush with success. Hillary is less tearful about the prospect of not being president. Huckabee is righteously grateful for his early success, and McCain's thrilled to be a born-again candidate.

Forty-seven states to go, and now the national media must wait to declare the winners they'd been waiting all week to crown. The American voters are aware, of course, that Iowa, Wyoming and New Hampshire make up only about 5 million of the 300 million people living in the country, and until last night, the mainstream media didn't like to point out that only less than half of 1 percent of our nation's voting-age population has taken part in the primary process as of today. So how was this is a done deal? Give me a break.

At this point, all of the geniuses in the mainstream media, mainly in television news, need to summon the courage to tell their audiences that there are a few important issues to be discussed and a few important facts to be collected before permitting a public coronation of any candidate based on dynasty, momentum, charisma or, God save us all, likeability.

Obama may be a candidate for change, but he wasn't spending change in Iowa. Obama spent more than $600,000 for each of the 16 delegates he won during the caucus, which still left him more than 2,000 delegates short of winning the nomination.

And Mitt Romney proved his was not simply a faith-based candidacy -- he also spent almost $600,000 for each of his 12 delegates in Iowa.

And John Edwards bragged about second place in Iowa when the difference between second and third place amounted to two-tenths of 1 percent of the caucus votes. How screwed up can a political process get? One billion dollars for nearly two years of campaigning that the national media was ready to conclude less than a month into 2008?

The fun part of all of this is that independents, the fastest-growing political identification, are playing major roles in the races so far, and are expected to do so in the contests to come.

As an independent populist, I haven't got a dog in this hunt. I favor none of the candidates in either political party seeking the nomination, and I still believe that these two political parties and the electoral process are part of the reason that our government simply doesn't work.

And while the magic word on the campaign trail of late has been "change," there is so little discussion of the challenging issues and public policy prescriptions by these candidates that real change in the nation's direction is, at best, unlikely.

What will each of these candidates, Democrat or Republican, do to resolve our crisis in public education; to make this nation's trade and fiscal policies more responsible; to secure our borders and ports; and to give primacy to working men and women and their families in all public policy?

The national media must wait until the rest of the nation hears their voice to declare the winners in the 2008 presidential campaign. And now they must find the guts to press all these candidates for answers on these critical issues, or they'll assure the American people will again be the losers.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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