At the bloody Democratic Convention of 1968, Paul Newman, Ralph Bellamy, and Dore Schary gave a tribute to Adlai Stevenson, the two-time nominee, and two-time loser to Dwight Eisenhower. Stevenson was a decent man, a true liberal who rose above the venal party bosses both north and south, and who always seemed slightly detached from politics. The tribute to him was moving, gracious, a hallmark to his decency, and went completely unlistened to. There was chaos on the convention floor as anti-war delegates were being muscled out in a boss-driven rush to nominate Hubert Humphrey, a good man driven to extreme by proximity to LBJ and the war. What’s more, there was madness on the streets, blood flowing in a police riot. 1956, the last year Stevenson ran, seemed light years away.
It’s easy to think about that when you see a relic from another time speaking today to try to save the Republican Party.
Mitt Romney, two-time loser, who has held one office in his life where his signature accomplishment was creating the model for Obamacare, is stepping up to be the preeminent party elder. He is giving a speech today to denounce Donald Trump as a fraud and a dangerous phony. He’s right, of course, though I doubt it’ll make any difference. Romney, who never met a job-killing merger he didn’t love, nevertheless couldn’t be more of a caricature of what Trump fans hate.
What will be interesting is the media deciding that he can save the party by stepping in and offering himself as a candidate if no one has enough delegates at the convention. It’s possible. It’s even possible he could win, in a vacuum, as the anti-Hillary-but-god-not-Trump voters would have another option. Of course, the chaos unleashed by that would make Chicago look like Bhutan. The Republican Party would be absolutely destroyed, and there is no way Trump wouldn’t run a third party campaign, drawing away the flotsam of American hatred with him.
That hideous year of 1968 seems so far away. It could be closer than we think.