Donald Trump has made a habit of talking with his foot in his mouth. Last week he stuck both feet in there when he was asked about abortion, NATO, and nuclear bombs. Can you believe he made the anti-abortion folks mad, and also the women who want the freedom to terminate a pregnancy?
He said NATO is obsolete and we should stop defending Europe without them paying us. That made some European leaders so mad at Trump they called Hillary Clinton to complain. But they didn’t offer to pay any more.
He said that Japan and South Korea should pay far more than the one or two billion dollars they pay us to protect them from China and North Korea. Those counties know they are getting a bargain, but folks here shudder at the idea they might develop their own nuclear weapons.
Trump is a businessman whose main talent is negotiating deals. Hillary Clinton probably wishes she was equally skilled at negotiating deals because she is about to find herself dealing with the FBI. Director James Comey may question her personally about the use of her private unsecured email system for dozens of top secret messages. She is leading Bernie Sanders, but political observers say her biggest challenge to the nomination is the “Comey Caucus.”
The leading candidates remaining on both sides are so disliked and distrusted, it’s gotten to the point that voters would prefer to wipe out the last several months, bring back the original cast of candidates, and start over.
If you think the party conventions this year will be bizarre, unpredictable and unlike any ever held, let me take you back to 1924.
Both conventions in 1924 were peculiar, for opposite reasons. The Republicans met in Cleveland in early June. Will Rogers covered the convention, writing daily syndicated columns. President Coolidge was the obvious choice to continue. Will wrote, “He could have been nominated by post card…. [Coolidge’s popularity] started the minute he opposed Congress and the Senate. The people said, ‘If he is against Congress he must be right.’” Will also wrote, “If these Delegates vote the way they were instructed to vote back home they will be the first politicians that ever did what the people told them to do. And if they do, this will be the first convention where the man won who had the most votes to start with.”
Will wrote, “This is the first Vice Presidential convention ever held in the history of politics.” It took three ballots to select Charles Dawes after two others turned it down.
Will included a quote from a keynote speech by the Chairman of the convention, Frank W. Mondell, who said, ‘We want Republicans that will stick together, not Republicans in name only.’ (This phrase, shortened to RINO, was first used in 1920.)
Will wrote, “The biggest applause Mr. [Theodore E.] Burton got was when he said the Republican Party should remain intact, including [Robert] La Follette.” Well, they didn’t remain intact; the Progressives held their own convention a month later in Cleveland and selected La Follette, Senator from Wisconsin, to be their candidate for President. His run as a third party candidate failed and had no effect on the election.
The 1924 Democratic Convention was held in New York City, starting June 24. It did not end until July 10, requiring 103 ballots to select the nominee. Will Rogers wrote 18 daily newspaper columns about it. I may need several “Weekly Comments” to give you the full flavor of that convention.