My interest in political news declined recently with of the preponderance of reporting on the selection of a Republican presidential candidate. Apart from unintended humor, sort of a folk ritual unique to this tribe of flat earthers, the show was not entertaining, except to people interested in Herman Cain’s social life.
What made the affair even duller to me was the certainty that the process would end in a Romney candidacy. The party is run by and for the benefit of Wall Street, not the Tea Party. These people control enough votes to impact Republican presidential politics as John McCain found out in 2000 running against Bush. They pull a lot of strings and they don’t knowingly pull them for lost causes, such as the Santorum candidacy.
The Tea Party connection hasn’t been all gravy for Republicans. The price paid for their support has a Faustian touch to it. In order to win the party’s nomination candidates have to spout this dogma in the primaries and hide from it in the general election. After trying to convince primary voters that they are crazier than the competition, the winner has until the November election to establish the appearance of sanity.
Romney has been the only logical candidate. He may have said the same terrible things as the other guys. But hopeful independent voters could reasonably conclude that he didn’t really mean them. His core beliefs are something of a mystery. But this scenario has changed since he began his journey of self destruction. I felt kind of sorry for him telling Michigan voters that their trees were “the right height.” This has the makings of a Bobby Jindal moment that would make “none of the above” the clear winner.
This situation is ripe for a brokered convention and the selection of a yet unannounced candidate. The powers that be are stubborn about fighting for lost causes. The current aspirants have spent months saying things detrimental to their prospects in a general election and, worse yet, having awful things said about them by the competition. A Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie would enter the battle with a relatively clean slate.
This is only a possibility. The 1952 Democratic Convention was the last at which the winner was not a foregone conclusion. There was no candidate of Romney’s prominence in a field which consisted of Vice President Alben Barkley, Senators Estes Kefauver* and Richard Russell and Averill Harriman. The convention was in Chicago and the welcoming speech by first term Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson was such a hit that, with a bit of help from President Truman, he was selected on the third ballot for a nomination he hadn’t sought.
To change horses this far into the stream would be by itself a negative development. “We looked at the people who wanted the job and decided to keep looking” is not good news. It’s reminiscent of George McGovern’s problems in choosing a running mate. But unless the big guys write this one off, which is not out of the question, it may be their only port in the storm.
*Truman called him “Cowfever.”