THE PLANK APRIL 19, 2007
It's instructive to bring up Bob Casey Jr.'s name in this context, because of course the birth of the "big tent" concept came about as a result of the Democratic Party's refusal to allow his father--the governor of a swing state and one of the nation's most populous--to speak at the Democratic convention in 1992. Casey Sr. himself said he was denied a speaking role because of his pro-life views. GOP spin doctors took this and ran with it hard, and have been talking "big tent" talk ever since.
Yes, we've heard this one before. Here's our own Michael Crowley, however, writing in TNR in 1996:
But the story is not so simple. According to those who actually doled out the 1992 convention speaking slots, Casey was denied a turn for one simple reason: his refusal to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. "It's just not factual!" stammers James Carville, apoplectic over Casey's claims. "You'd have to be idiotic to give a speaking role to a person who hadn't even endorsed you."[Snip]Casey doesn't dispute that he refused to endorse Clinton. Instead, he notes that Jerry Brown and his sister, Kathleen, also did not, yet were both allowed to speak. Theirs, however, were special cases: Jerry Brown had won a few hundred delegates in the primaries, and under convention rules was allowed to speak because his name was placed in nomination.
To deny a speaking spot to someone who wouldn't support the ticket(!), and who spent much of 1992 bashing Clinton, is of course perfectly reasonable. For the right to dishonestly bring this up time and again is less reasonable, and yet no less surprising.