Dobson Always a Day Late

Back during the Republican primary, James Dobson made news several times by playing a very public game of “He Loves Me Not” with the varying GOP contenders, slowly ticking off John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson as unacceptable candidates, leavings observers to guess as to whether he supported Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee.  Those questions were put to rest once Romney dropped out and Dobson cravenly endorsed Huckabee primarily as a means to show his deep-seated opposition to McCain.  Since then, Dobson has had a predictable change of heart and now says that he might be able to support McCain after all.    

Now that attention is focusing on whom McCain will name as his running mate, the original Huckabee Fan Club, which Dobson joined late in the game, has been hard at work pushing for McCain to pick their man and warning him not to choose Romney – but Dobson apparently doesn’t share that view.  While he had initially reportedly hedged on supporting Romney out of concern that rank-and-file evangelical voters might be unwilling to support him because of his Mormon faith, it looks like those concerns, just like his concerns about McCain, have evaporated as well:

Even Focus on the Family leader James Dobson — who has softened his stance on McCain, a candidate he had said he would never vote for — doesn’t think Romney would be a bad VP choice.

“Dr. Dobson liked his speech about faith very much,” said spokesman Gary Schneeberger, referring to Romney’s December address, where he spoke about the importance of religion in American society but that it should be separate from public responsibilities. “He wants a pro-life running mate, and Romney qualifies for that.”

Early in the primary, when Dobson could have made an impact on the race with an endorsement, he chose to shout from the sidelines until events forced his hand.  Then, when his ideological allies on the Right bit the bullet and grudgingly decided to back McCain, Dobson waited weeks before finally saying “I guess I will too.”  But whereas the others have at least been trying to pressure McCain into picking the vice-presidential candidate of their choice, Dobson seems to be resigned to quietly suggesting that as long as the VP choice is at least nominally pro-life, then that is good enough.   

For a man who prides himself on sticking to his principles and translating them into political power, Dobson is doing a remarkable job this election cycle of making himself seem increasingly feckless and irrelevant.