Opinion: GOP race: Bring back the brokered convention

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I wasn’t kidding on Super Tuesday evening when I tweeted ‘Brokered Convention! Brokered Convention!’ Even if it opened up the possibility of a Sarah Palin draft, a genuinely deliberative Republican convention would make for more compelling television (and tweets).

I can already see the candidates, flanked by texting aides, streaming into meetings with state delegations between the 14th and 15th ballots. And every day a new dark horse. (‘CNN can report that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has emerged as the latest compromise acceptable to both the Romney and Santorum camps.’)


A brokered convention might also revive interest in two masterpieces of American political fiction: Gore Vidal’s 1960 play (later a film) ‘The Best Man’ and ‘Convention,’ the 1964 novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, the authors of ‘Seven Days in May.’

‘The Best Man’ climaxes dramatically when a liberal favorite for the nomination pulls out of the race and throws his support to a governor who had entered the convention as a long shot.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

The dust jacket for ‘Convention’ described the nominating process of what was soon to be a bygone era: ‘In our whole political scene, nothing captures the imagination like the tense, emotional atmosphere of our party conventions.’ Conventions made for riveting fiction not only because of the suspense factor but because so much of the action took place in backrooms. In his notes for ‘The Best Man,’ Vidal wrote: ‘Politicians, like magicians and safecrackers, do not enjoy being explicated.’ This was pre-C-SPAN, of course, and pre-Piers Morgan.

Political business still gets done in backrooms -- and PAC rooms -- but nominees are chosen long before the delegates get off the plane. But maybe not this year. A change might do politics, and the political novel, some good.



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