A Proposed Moratorium on Late Entry Speculation

Late-entry fantasists who keep lofting up the names of possible GOP saviors that a “brokered convention” might nominate have a basic problem: most of those names are of pols who have repeatedly said they are not interested, and/or have tangible handicaps that would cause big problems with key segments of the party they are supposed to save. You know: Jeb Bush is a squish on immigration, Chris Christie has mocked Islamophobes, Mitch Daniels has proposed a “truce” on cultural issues, and so on and so forth.

So some scribblers have taken to writing about saviors who haven’t disclaimed interest in a candidacy and whose shortcomings have not already been analyzed, because nobody in his or her right mind would suggest them in the first place. That’s the only appropriate reaction to Adam Winkler’s Daily Beast column floating an extremely flimsy trial balloon for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

I won’t go through Winkler’s full argument, which is so fundamentally silly that some readers have suggested it might be a parody. But here’s its real clincher of an “argument:”

Yes, it is hard to believe that Clarence Thomas would ever be the Republican nominee. Then again, most people thought an inexperienced African-American often mistaken for a Muslim could never defeat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, much less be elected president.

That depends on your definition of “most people.” Barack Obama was being hailed as a possible future president from the very moment he delivered his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention–and some people thought so even earlier. And if the unlikelihood of some abstract “type” of a nominee becomes a credential for everyone else who is “unlikely,” then why stop at Clarence Thomas? Why not some county commissioner from North Dakota? Why not a Democrat? That would be a shocker, wouldn’t it?

I think we need a moratorium on all late entry speculation until such time as turnout in Republican primaries drops 70% or at a minimum, Newt Gingrich has negotiated his third return from the dead this cycle and tops national polls once again.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.