So argues commentator and author Kevin Phillips, who sees unusual potential for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
This would be a Good Thing indeed. In recent decades, the conventions have been little more than exercises in finding new ways to drop balloons and lie more convincingly in candidate "biographies."
Phillips argues that the sheer number of Democratic candidates could lead to the first multi-ballot convention for the donkeys since 1952. Given the Democratic record in such circumstances – four losses in four occurrences – this probably would bode ill for the Democrats’ chances. However, Phillips, who seems to think the nomination is Howard Dean’s to win or lose, argues that a sharp Democratic contest until shortly before the convention in July could help keep the Dems on message against the GOP – and the money flowing to the candidates.
Should Dean lack the horsepower to push through at the convention, Phillips raises the notion that a deadlocked convention might turn back to – Al Gore! After all, he did beat Bush in the popular vote last time and he’s been sounding “increasingly feisty” lately.
Obviously, there will be no suspense about the Republican nominee. But the convention in New York City in September could be a different matter.
“In 2002, the idea of again draping the mantle of 9/11 around Bush at a 2004 nomination convention just a few miles from ‘ground zero’ must have seemed highly opportune to GOP strategists,” Phillips writes. Now, in face of a tough, continuing war (November produced the highest number of U.S. deaths since the invasion of Iraq), plus security concerns raised by a surge in Islamic terrorism, the Republicans may face some unwanted suspense when they gather in the Big Apple.
“Keep in mind that when Bush was in London recently, Al Qaeda or affiliated terrorists made it a point to bomb the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul, Turkey,” Phillips writes. “Even if no attempts are made on Manhattan, the probability of extreme security measures and possibly something approaching martial law in sections of the island could cast a long shadow over the convention. This potential embarrassment is another one of the extraordinary political uncertainties of 2004.”