Tony Blankley

Here's a thought: The GOP presidential primaries may well prove to be inconclusive, with the nominee actually being chosen at the convention in Tampa, Fla., in the fourth week of August next year.

True, it has been generations since a presidential nominating convention actually made that decision, although, admittedly, this idea pops up every four years. The last GOP contested convention that went beyond the first ballot was in 1948, when Thomas Dewey was chosen on the third ballot -- and went on to lose to Harry Truman. For the Democrats it was in 1952, when Adlai Stevenson was also chosen on the third ballot -- and also went on to lose, to Dwight Eisenhower. The longest was the Democratic convention of 1924 that went on for over two weeks and took 103 ballots to nominate John Davis, who lost to Calvin Coolidge.

There may be a pattern there. As Professor Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young point out in their insightful Dec. 6, 2007, article "What if the Conventions are Contested?" "It is no coincidence that brokered conventions ended after networks began to televise them. The 1952 convention is instructive. Actually settled on the first ballot when Dwight Eisenhower beat Robert Taft, the intraparty brawling that preceded the Eisenhower victory appalled thousands who watched it on TV."

In fact, hotly contentious conventions -- whether the GOP in 1912 or the riotous Democratic Chicago convention in 1968 -- often augur poorly for the general election. But whether good news or bad, five odd features of this season's GOP primary process suggest inconclusiveness.

First is the much-mentioned, weak front-runner Mitt Romney. He has consistently commanded about 25 percent in the polls. Is that a floor or a ceiling? Conservatives urgently want to nominate an undoubted and solid conservative. With the Republican primary voters increasingly conservative over the last generation, it would be curious if the GOP nominated the least perceived conservative two times running -- first Sen. McCain in 2008 and then Romney in 2012.

Second, equally important with nominating a conservative, the GOP primary voters urgently want to defeat the incumbent, and they hold that passion more powerfully than we have seen in living memory. The conviction that the incumbent is plunging the nation into soon-to-be-irreversible, statist decline is driving the voters both to want to chose the most electable candidate and to make sure they pick a candidate with the conviction and the capacity to radically reverse course back to traditional conservative American values and programs.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate