Obama Camp Raising Specter of 1968

(The original post attributed these remarks to David Axelrod. That's wrong.)

There's a new talking point this week from Team Obama about the unpalatable prospects of a brokered convention: 2008 will be just like 1968, but worse.

The link above takes you to a remark from the lips of Obama ally Doug Wilder:

Bob, I think it would be a mistake because you pointed out the first convention you went to was 1968. You know what a mess that was. If the majority of the American people who are participating in these processes, either through caucuses or through primaries, have a majority of those votes going for either of the candidates, and if the super delegates intervene and get in the way of it and say, oh, no, we're going to determine what's best, there will be chaos at the convention. It does nothing to help the Democrats. And if you think 1968 was bad, you watch; in 2008, it will be worse.”

Talk about pine tar on the bat. When most Americans and Democrats think about the '68 convention, the specifics of the deal to nominate the establishment candidate, Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey, aren't what comes to mind. . Instead, the mind's eye pictures images of Chicago police officers hitting delegates with baseball bats, of Dan Rather getting punched in the face, of violence, social decay and a political party that could not escape the influence of (or the protests of) radicals.

Historians of political culture point to the convention as a breaking point. It's when the fissures that would almost destroy the party in the 70s were first exposed.

Remember the context: before the convention, MLK had been assassinated. Ditto, RFK. The energy in the party came from identity politics activists and from college students who had organized for Eugene McCarthy.

Is 2008 really like 1968? Elect Obama (McCarthy) or watch the riots in the streets?

Certainly, if the "establishment," whatever it is, somehow contrives to nominate Hillary Clinton over Obama, there will be protests. But there will probably not be any blood. Or violence.

And given the silence of the superdelegates so far, a scenario whereby Obama's having recieved the majority of both earned delegates and the popular vote results in an annointment of Hillary Clinton is a big stretch.