As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to strut their stuff on the campaign trail, memories of 1968 Chicago are creeping into the nightmares of Democrats everywhere.
That was the last time they dissed their declared presidential candidates in favor of someone who didn't bother to run in the primaries. Will they do it again? Will Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton be pushed aside just as Eugene McCarthy was in Chicago forty years ago? If so, who will play the Hubert Humphrey role? Who will be the candidate to step in and steal the nomination from those who have run for it?
Why, Al Gore, of course.
Like Gore, Humphrey was a former U.S. senator and vice president who had been denied the presidency before. An old style liberal who had paid his dues in party politics when he ran for president in 1960, Humphrey was pushed aside by voters in that election in favor of the young, charismatic John F. Kennedy. He was later plucked from the senate to be Lyndon Johnson's vice president.
Like Humphrey before him, Gore is admired among party bosses. Many still believe the 2000 election was stolen from him. He has carved out a niche for himself as the spokesman for the Chicken Little movement of leftists who somehow believe that so-called man-made global warming is a greater danger to our survival than jihadists whose greatest desire is to nuke our cities.
Also like Humphrey in 1968, Gore has not entered a single primary this year.
If Clinton and Obama deny each other the requisite number of delegates to clinch the nomination between now and August, will Al Gore become the Mighty Mouse of the party? There are those who openly speculate about such a scenario.
"If Al Gore can pull himself away from saving the planet long enough, he might want to consider rescuing the Democratic Party from the clutches of utter self-destruction," opines Charles Hurt, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the New York Post.
"Forget the red phone for a national security crisis," Hurt writes. "Where is the red phone for a political party trying to destroy itself? And where is the party leader with the respect, stature wisdom and influence to answer the crisis phone?"
After eliminating a list of potential candidates, Hurt continues: "That leaves Al Gore as the only person with the experience to answer the red phone and force a peaceful end to this civil war. The inconvenient truth is that the red phone is now ringing and Al Gore hears it. The only question is whether he has the guts to pick it up."
Hurt actually seems to believe that this would be a good thing for the Democratic Party, that Al Gore is the one person who can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in what should be a Democrat year.
I believe the opposite.
A whole generation of ignorant Democrats now "feels" that "fairness" is the watchword of their party. They have no recollection of the smoke-filled back rooms, wherein party bosses chose the candidates at the conventions. To put forth a candidate, be it Al Gore or anyone else, who has not put his name on a single state primary ballot, is unthinkable to these people.
In 1968, the "Youth International Party" or "Yippies" came to Chicago to protest the war in Vietnam and everything else for which they blamed "the establishment." They met a wall of violent resistance from the local police force, thereby sparking a riot in the streets. The problem was exacerbated considerably by the convention's nomination of Hubert Humphrey.
In 2008, with Barack Obama leading in delegates and in the popular vote among Democrats, the most frequently cited scenario is one where Hillary Clinton comes waltzing into Denver and cuts a deal handing her the nomination. This, as former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, has said, "would be worse than Chicago in 1968."
Now try to imagine the combined angst of Obama and Clinton supporters as they watch their candidates shoved aside in favor of a man who never ran in a single primary. What do you have? Riots in the streets?
Republicans can only hope so.