Like a beach ball at a rock concert, one reporter after another asked delegates what they thought of pairing the conservative Californian with the moderate ex-President. The idea began to gain real traction, stoked as it was by media boredom, the mother of mischief. Liberals snickered at the thought of the supposedly inexperienced Reagan ceding foreign policy and defense to Ford. It would be, one wag said, “a presidency with training wheels.”
To conservatives, who had denounced Nixon-Kissinger-Ford détente as an immoral concession to Soviet imperialism, the very idea was anathema. Ford had erased a 30-point deficit in the polls in 1976, only to impale himself by saying Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination during a presidential debate with Jimmy Carter. And this was the man whom the party Establishment and their cohorts in the media hoped would restrain Ronald Reagan.
To prevent being forced into such a misalliance, Gov. Reagan moved and quickly to spike all such talk. He named his defeated rival, former UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush as his running mate.
With that, the fate of the Republican Party and, to an extent, the nation, was sealed for twenty years after Bush 41 won the White House in 1988. Columnist George F. Will spoke for many conservatives after the senior Bush was trounced by Bill Clinton, following a single term: He turned the silk purse of the Reagan coalition into a sow’s ear.
If we think the products of such brokered conventions were good for America , good for good for the conservative cause, or even good for the Republican Party, we should think again. A brokered convention could only leave us all, well, broker.