Since the Reagan years, both major parties have prized the kind of scripted, regimented, highly predictable presidential nominating conventions that have made conventions fairly boring news events to cover.
But in recent cycles, Republicans have been off their game. When John McCain accepted the GOP nomination in 2008, the screen behind him cycled at some point on to an image of the well-manicured quad of Walter Reed. Not the Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., but Walter Reed Middle High School in North Hollywood, CA. The effect when viewed through television cameras, which smoothed out the rough blades of grass on the lawn, was to make McCain appear to be speaking before a green screen.
Then in 2012, Mitt Romney’s aides allowed Clint Eastwood to give an extemporaneous prime time speech, during which he conversed with an empty prop chair like a grand old man of the psych ward. Thanks to some sloppy advance work, the term “Eastwooding” is now commemorated on urban dictionary as “the act of speaking to an empty chair.”
Keep in mind that while no campaign is perfect, and McCain’s in particular was beset by problems, both the McCain and Romney campaigns were incomparably more professional than is Donald Trump’s campaign, which has neither the organizational capacity, nor the internal cohesion, to make sure things like this don’t happen.
The level of micromanaging these events require is kind of mind boggling. For instance: In 2004, John Kerry’s staff had to ask then state Senator Barack Obama to snip a line from his famous red-and-blue America keynote speech so that Kerry could have it all to himself. I would bet hard money that the proceedings of the GOP convention in Cleveland won’t be so tightly controlled.