My first Democratic National Convention came when I was ten. My parents took me along to the new Los Angeles Sports Arena for the second night of the 1960 gathering that nominated Jack Kennedy. The tickets came courtesy of my father’s employers, who ran a mega-tract-home construction company. They may well have been to the right of the Democratic Party; my parents were still stubbornly to its left —members of the all-but-extinct Socialist Party—but no matter. A national political convention didn’t come around every week, and besides, my parents increasingly considered themselves close to the liberal reformers who dominated California’s Democratic Party.
As chance would have it, the second night of that Democratic Convention provided the last gasp of liberalism’s romance with Adlai Stevenson, the party’s nominee in the past two elections, which he lost both times to Dwight Eisenhower. More through his eloquence and his pose of somehow being above politics than through any of his policies (he had disgracefully ducked supporting the fledgling civil-rights movement), Stevenson had become the darling of anti-big-city, machine liberal professionals during the 1950s. He still had strong support in those circles, among California reform Democrats in particular. Kennedy, who was closing in on the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination, had dispatched the genuine liberal in the field, Hubert Humphrey, in a series of primaries, and many liberals were still resistant to his charms. Big-city bosses like Chicago’s Richard Daley still held the balance of power at the convention, since only a relative handful of states held primaries that bound delegates to vote for the candidate their state’s voters preferred.
Representative Paul Ryan's rise to the second-slot of the Republican presidential ticket has everyone in a frenzy. Democrats think the right-wing rock star will poison Romney's campaign, while the GOP applauds Mitt Romney's vice-presidential choice as a much needed dose of excitement—and a sign that the presidential running mates are deeply wedded to the right. But there's one thing everyone can agree upon: Paul Ryan is going to be an A-lister on the political stage for a long time, even if Romney loses. Here's a look back at vice-presidential candidates who never reached the hallowed halls of the White House.
When Newt Gingrich began his presidential run, he said that he was such a transformative and revolutionary figure that a regular kind of campaign just wasn't capable of containing and advancing his unique brand of awesomeness. He proved this by going away on a two-week cruise to Greece, whereupon most of his staff quit in frustration. But just a few weeks ago, it began to look like Newt may have been right, and that his unusual way of running for president -- starting with being a uniquely unpopular figure, then eschewing the normal things candidates do, like raising money and organizing supporters -- might not stop him from becoming the Republican nominee.
Max Palevsky, who died Wednesday at 85 at his Beverly Hills home, was, among much else, one of the first major donors (if not the first -- I leave it to Bob and Paul to sort this out) who provided the funds to get a fledgling magazine called The American Prospect up and running 20 years ago.