These days, the green rooms at Fox News are full of pundits and politicians desperate to please President Donald Trump. When Sean Hannity spins the results of the latest poll as a conservative victory, or Steve Doocy nudges Trump toward signing a deal to fund the border wall, they are performing for an audience of one.
Only Lou Dobbs, though, rises above the day-to-day news cycle to give Trump the historical grandeur he seems to crave. On Lou Dobbs Tonight, the longtime conservative anchor has predicted “century after century of veneration” for the “greatest president in our history.” He has credited Trump with such grand achievements as the preservation of our precious leisure time: “Have a great weekend,” he said last September. “The president makes such a thing possible for us all.” He has even said that Trump has done more for African Americans than any president since Lincoln and compared a senator who dared criticize him to Benedict Arnold. (When such analogies fail, Dobbs falls back on more colorful descriptions: The recently cashiered impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, for instance, was a “popinjay.”)
Trump is hardly a student of history—he once wondered why the Civil War could not have just “been worked out”—but he is obsessed with his legacy; he tweets about his place in “history” roughly once every three days, and is reportedly only concerned about impeachment because of the black mark it will leave on his “résumé.” Watching Dobbs, then, must reassure the president that in the long run, after the details have vanished from memory, he will be revered as a Great Man, a larger-than-life figure like Augustus or Jesus—the “chosen one,” as Trump once put it, or as Dobbs did a few months earlier, a “person of providence.”
Dobbs isn’t the most telegenic messenger: He seems to struggle to complete his sentences, his face sags with sleep while he talks, and his countenance looks at times as if it were composed of melting candle wax. But he has managed to worm his way into Trump’s inner circle. As recently as last year, he reportedly convinced the president to oust Kirstjen Nielsen from her position as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, after she expressed qualms about defending the administration’s family separation policy. Small wonder, then, that Dobbs—a longtime demagogue on immigration issues going back to his CNN tenure in the nineties—is so keen to insist that Trump’s stature as one of history’s greatest statesmen is unassailable: Trump’s legacy is in no small measure Lou Dobbs’s as well.