Now, I do completely agree with her that it would be problematic for the party and could indeed be disastrous -- just not for any of the reasons she suggested. It would be disastrous because Donald Trump is Donald Trump, and he'd likely have a psychotic meltdown and take the GOP down with him. But the nomination of a party does not go -- nor should it go -- to the candidate who comes to the convention with the most votes. There's a reason you need 1,237 delegates, a majority, to get the nomination -- somewhat the same as if you were running, say, for the U.S. Senate and only got a plurality of the votes in your state's primary. You aren't simply handed the nomination because you had the most votes, but there would need to have a run-off election in order for someone (perhaps not you, once the conditions have changed...) to get a majority. Just like at a convention, you need a majority of the delegates. It's a pretty simple concept. Equally simple is the concept that Donald Trump is winning most of the Republican primaries, but he only has about 40% of the votes. That's not a majority. In fact, it means a full 60% of other candidates are the party's first choice. And while he's won the most state elections, he's lost four of the 11. So, to presume that Donald Trump (or anyone) deserves the nomination for the sole reason that he has the most delegates, but not a majority, and won the most primaries, is bizarrely wrong-headed logic. The candidate who comes to the convention with the most delegates and most primary wins should likely be able to build a coalition on that and get the party to rally around him. But... importantly...he doesn't get it just for the reason he's in front. Especially when he's only got around a 40% support. He has to get the majority. Has to. Those are the rules. And they're pretty clear. And make sense.
(Ms. Maddow also later showed a clip from that night's already-recorded The Tonight Show, on which she's a guest. The segment had her talking about how, on the one hand there are the GOP party leaders were for anyone but Trump, and on the other hand...and she paused for comedic effect..."are all the voters." It got a very big laugh -- but unfortunately it's not even remotely true. Donald Trump doesn't have anything close to "all the voters." He's got about 40% of them.)
But the thing is, that wasn't her problematic analysis. It was only the warm-up.
Her problem was when she tried to explain what would happen at the convention by comparing it to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. She talked about Sen. Eugene McCarthy challenging the Johnson Administration and winning six primaries. She also noted how Sen. Robert Kennedy had won four primaries before he was assassinated. And added that Vice-President Hubert Humphrey hadn't won any primaries, but the party leaders wanted him and maneuvered the convention so that he'd get the nomination, which -- according to Ms. Maddow -- was why the convention got out of control, and she showed archival footage of the mess to prove her point.
That wasn't remotely accurate.
First, she left out that Humphrey got into the race extremely late, because his boss, President Johnson was initially running. And though it was too late for him to even get on ballots, Humphrey had several Favorite Son candidates run as "surrogates" for him to get delegates, and two of them actually won their primaries -- Senator George Smathers in Florida, and Senator Stephen Young in Ohio. No, that's not even close to the same as Humphrey winning, but it's an important fact to leave out.
But secondly, and far more -- and totally the main point -- is that the convention was not wildly out-of-control because everyone was upset that the party elders were anointing Humphrey against voter wishes...but because there was the Vietnam War going on, and the streets were full of protesters of the war. Further, the news every day showed the heavy-handed police response to the protesters under the direction of Chicago boss Mayor Richard J. Daley, complete with beatings and tear-gas, which outraged the delegates inside the convention hall, highlighted when Sen. Abraham Ribicoff chastised Daley from the podium. That's why the convention in Chicago was so disastrous. There definitely were delegates angry that McCarthy wasn't getting the nomination, and that Humphrey was, but that was so secondary by far to the war protests -- protests that had been going on for four years and building in strength. The protesters didn't show in Chicago because they were upset Eugene McCarthy might not get the nomination. The protests were organized long before the convention by radical anti-war leaders who subsequently became known as the Chicago Eight in the later circus-like trial.
This was pretty clear to people at the time (and now) because...well, because we lived in America then and could see. And could read the papers and watch the news. And it helped too that I lived in Chicago. I had friends who would go into Chicago during the convention. They were not overly upset about who the nominee was. They were angry at the war. (Side note: The infamous judge of the Chicago Eight, later "Seven," trial, Julius Hoffman, was the grandfather of a classmate in my homeroom at New Trier East High School. When "Grandpa Julius" was in the news, I have vivid memories of the guy talking about him.)
Yes, Hubert Humphrey was the Establishment candidate, as Rachel Maddow repeatedly described him to show a supposed-similarity with today's GOP Establishment trying to deny the convention nomination to Donald Trump. Certainly, he was the Establishment candidate compared to Gene McCarthy and, as such, was tied to the Johnson policies. But as the candidate, left out of her analysis is that Humphrey most definitely showed breaks with President Johnson. It wasn't as much as one would hope, but he did not uphold them in lock-step full support, which was the implication she left viewers with.
The point is -- the larger point, indeed the main point -- is that whatever happens at the Republican Convention this year, there is absolutely no substantive similarity between the out-of-control disorder and anti-war rioting and police beatings at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and Donald Trump and his supporters being angry if he doesn't get the nomination at a brokered convention. There might be problems, even big problems, but they will be for totally different reasons.
It was a surprisingly thoughtless analysis by someone who should and does know much better.