Tuesday, May 6, 2008

So, did you miss me?

Having wrapped up another major writing assignment at work (and it seems with another one looming in the next couple of days,) this seems as good a time as any to offer some words of wisdom.
There's no meter or rhyme to this post, but let's get started.

The presidential campaign remains a hot topic on the intraweb tubes. One thing that keeps nagging at the back of my mind is the huge concern that the Democratic party have decided on a candidate before the convention. The convention system was established in the first place as the method of selection, but in recent decades it has devolved to little more than a formality. I'm showing my age here, but I distinctly recall watching the 1964 Democratic and Republican conventions on TV. Back then coverage was nearly gavel to gavel. That year the Republican nomination was still an open question. The biggest question in my 12-year-old mind was, why did San Francisco have a Cow Palace, and why did the GOP select that site for their convention?

Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was the presumptive nominee, but many moderate and liberal-leaning Republicans (we would call them RINOs today) opposed his conservative views. His main opposition had come from New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, whose candidacy was scuttled by an ill-timed divorce. Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton came on as a reluctant replacement for Happy Rockefeller. Scranton's half-hearted campaign reminds me today of the effort Fred Thompson gave in his brief run for the White House. In any event, it was too little, too late and Senator Goldwater won the nomination. The Democrats had no such political intrigue at there convention, coming less than a year after President Kennedy's assassination. Lyndon Johnson as the incumbent faced no serious opposition, and he went on to easily defeat Goldwater in November.

My point here is not that the GOP had a contentious convention and lost the election. There was little that would have prevented LBJ's election. The importance of the contested convention was that it gave both the left and right wings of the party an opportunity to duke it out and to decided whether the GOP would remain anchored in conservative values, or would become Democrat-lite under RINO leadership. It was democracy in action, and live on TV. (Okay, the real action happened behind the scenes, but still...)

Now the MSM pundits are so concerned that delegates at this year's Democratic convention might actually have to think and make actual decisions about the future of their party. If that is such a bad idea, then why not just do away with the conventions, schedule a national primary and be done with it?

On another note, it's beginning to look as though vice presidential candidates may play a larger than usual role in this year's election. Elephantman of the Draft Sarah Palin site obviously has a dog in this fight, but he points us to an interesting veepstakes polll at Congressional Quarterly. It's an exercise in bracketology. Check it out.

That's all for now. Keep those comments coming.