Parsing the Lou Dobbs bombshell, I can’t help wondering if the pudgy populist is planning a run for president in 2012. My guess: yes. And if he does, I’ll bet he’ll do so as a Peron-style, would-be Ross Perot. It could be America’s first truly fascist electoral effort.

Okay, I know I’m jumping the gun. Maybe his quitting is just so he can move over to Fox, though that would probably push Geraldo Rivera out. I’m not saying Dobbs would necessarily get much traction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to raise money from wealthy right-wingers and set up a third party effort aimed at capturing tea baggers, anti-immigrant fanatics, and assorted other nutballs.

In his statement last night, which you can read here and watch here, Dobbs said:

“Over the past six months it’s become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us, and some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day.”

And:

“At this point, I’m considering a number of options and directions, and I assure you, I will let you know when I set my course. I truly believe that the major issues of our time include the growth of our middle class, the creation of more jobs, health care, immigration policy, the environment, climate change, and our military involvement, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Among those options, I’d guess, is politics. NPR has already posted an idiotic on line poll asking people to register their opinion about whether they’d like Dobbs to run president or Congress. And there’s been other speculation, too.

Unlike the right-wing hatchet men on Fox, the blustery bullies such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, whose appeal is strictly to ultraconservatives and ideologues, Dobbs has structured his appeal in a populist direction, and he’s consciously sought to build a political base on-air.

Dobbs is smart enough to notice that the Republican party is imploding. If right-wing GOP activists and Palinistas take over the party in 2010, pushing it even further into its Deep South (and Alaska) box, the field will be wide open for a dangerous rabblerouser like Dobbs in 2012.

Perhaps the best commentary so far on the Dobbs move is from Andy Borowitz:

“Controversial CNN host Lou Dobbs bade the people of Earth farewell today as he embarked on a long voyage back to his planet of origin.

“Standing on a launching pad with his rocket ship at the ready, Mr. Dobbs addressed a crowd of dozens who came to wish him a safe trip and godspeed.

“‘People of Earth, farewell,’ he said. ‘My work here is done.'”

If only.