May 23, 2004
Paranoid Musings I

I'm surprised no one else has suggested this yet -- at least no one whose blog I've read:

If Kerry puts off accepting the Democratic nomination until several weeks after the convention, wouldn't that possibly leave an opening for someone else to slip in and take it from him? Of course, I do not think that Kerry would plan such a thing. Even to consider such a deferral, he would have to be convinced that he would be doing it to improve his prospects for adequate campaign funding. However, others in his party (*cough* Hillary *cough* Edwards *cough* anyone worried about Kerry's electability *cough*) may have other agendas. Is the whole idea a set-up, with Kerry as the patsy?

I don't know of any particular mechanism by which someone could take the nomination from the presumptive nominee after the convention was over, but:

  1. If there is one, I wouldn't know: I am entirely ignorant of the nominating rules for presidential candidates. The one thing I do know is that experts often use the adjective 'Byzantine' to describe them. It's possible that there is some obscure rule that would facilitate switching horses (or horse-faced candidates) in mid-stream.
  2. The situation envisioned would be unprecedented -- not to mention freakishly weird -- and it's more than likely that no existing rules would cover it. A lack of rules gives a big advantage to the unscrupulous.
  3. As long as the front-runner has not officially accepted the nomination, he is only the front-runner, not the nominee, and there must be some possibility of an involuntary switch. Otherwise, nomination would have no meaning.

(Note: This entry was lightly revised, mostly for style, at 8:10 AM.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 23, 2004 12:50 AM

The stories I've read about the delayed nomination note that the existing Democratic convention rules would have to be modified to accomodate the delay. To extend that modification a bit further, to allow a more palatable (to the Democrats) candidate, does not seem that much of a stretch.

Imagine if Lieberman were the "replaced" candidate. Then I'd have a tougher choice at the voting booth.

Posted by: Jon on May 24, 2004 03:33 PM

Aside from the point that that floated plan has since been dropped, and setting aside technical points, but taking your hypothetical as given, it makes no sense whatever as plausible unless one sees mass support by a vast majority of the Democrats for the replacement of Kerry. Otherwise any insurgent would simply be seen as a divisive traitor damaging the Party purely for personal ambition, or, at best, for the causes of a small miniority of the Party (Kucinich types, perhaps).

It's been remarkable this past year to read endless Republican and non-Democratic sources going on and on and on and on in millions of words about plots of Hillary Clinton to obtain or steal the nomination, when anyone who actually has any knowledge of how Democrats think would tell you that this is as likely as a secret plan to nominate Mickey Mouse.

There's simply never been the slightest thing to it, outside the desperate wishes of those such as Rush Limbaugh, whose ratings would soar, and those on the Right who see Senator Clinon as a Spawn of Satan.

Posted by: Gary Farber on May 31, 2004 06:02 PM

Of course, the Democrats' bylaws must allow for some way of replacing a candidate if he withdraws or dies after being nominated. (The conspiracy nuts could have a field day if Kerry died suddenly after Bush blew his money on spots showing John "Flipflop" Kerry arguing every side of every issue.) However, there is a problem with getting ballots printed with the new names if you wait too long.

IMHO, Kerry is going to narrowly beat out Gore for the title of the worst candidate the Dems have nominated since McGovern. (This isn't a prediction as to the election, since I also think the Repubs could have picked a better candidate in 2000 by having a blindfolded man toss a dart at the convention floor, and whether GWB's public standing has improved or declined since then is questionable.) This explains all the conspiracy-theorizing. They are wondering, "Why do the Dems act like they want to lose the election?" It's a short step from there to thinking there's some sort of sinister plan behind it, rather than simple shortage of Democrats of presidential caliber. (This is exaggerated by the increasing polarization of recent years, so the only way a person can avoid having about 30% of the American public on the other "side" think him a joke is to take a clearly and consistently centrist position and look like a joke to 60%...)

Remember that in 1972, Nixon's men got so paranoid about whatever the Dems were up to that they got caught in a burglary trying to find out. It turned out that the Dems were doing exactly what it looked like, namely running their most consistent supporters out of the party for racism, picking one of the most extrem candidates possible, and otherwise making sure that nothing short of being caught with a dead girl and a live boy could cost Nixon the election - no surprise the Nixon operatives thought there had to be something more to it... This year though, I have no doubt it's just the Dems fouling up as usual.

Posted by: markm on June 1, 2004 12:03 PM