Editors' note: this column is co-authored by Bob Morrison
Politico is a journal subscribed to by none but political junkies, and most of those are liberal. So, when this serious publication starts talking about a brokered convention for the GOP in Tampa next August, beware!
General Dwight D. Eisenhower won a first-ballot nomination in 1952. But there had been a prolonged and bitter floor fight over convention rules. Supporters of conservative Sen. Robert A. Taft (“Mr. Republican”) charged that they had been unfairly denied delegates by Ike’s manipulative Eastern Establishment backers. Had Ike not been the odds-on favorite to sweep the nation after twenty years of Democratic Party rule, the Republicans might well have remained angrier at each other than at their rivals.
Even so, Ike felt he needed to smooth ruffled feathers of the party’s conservative base. So he named then-Sen. Richard M. Nixon of California as his vice presidential running mate. Nixon was offered to conservatives because he had made a name for himself going after Communists in the State Department. He pursued New Dealer Alger Hiss, against whom ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers had so heroically testified. Denying all, Hiss went to prison for perjury.
That Richard Nixon would go on to become president and to betray Taiwan in his famous “Opening Up” of Communist China could not have been imagined in any of those 1952 Republican delegates’ wildest dreams. That he would be forced to resign in the face of impeachment stuns us even now.
The consequences for the nation of that 1952 “brokered” convention have been vast. When Nixon went down in 1974, thousands of “Watergate babies” were swept into office. These very liberal Democrats left a record of radical social and economic policies that still haunts us.
A more recent example of a brokered convention might be the Republican National Convention of 1980, in Detroit . Former Gov. Ronald Reagan had swept the primaries and caucuses that year and his nomination for president, after New Hampshire , was never in doubt.
But who would be his running mate? Reagan was then the oldest man ever nominated for president, so Number Two could easily have become Number One.
With no mystery in the presidential nomination to chew over, the national media—liberal then as now—began their own mini-campaign. With the collusion of former Sec. of State Henry Kissinger, the media began floating the idea of a Reagan-Ford ticket.