Skip to comments.Dukakis and the Tank. . .The inside story of the worst campaign photo op ever.
Posted on 11/19/2013 12:35:32 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee
Matt Bennett can still hear the reporters laughing, all 90 of them. He can still picture Sam Donaldson doubled over, guffawing, on a riser that looked out over a dusty field in suburban Detroit. Bennett was a 23-year-old political rookie in 1988 when he was sent to a General Dynamics facility in Sterling Heights, Mich., to organize a campaign stop for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis: a ride in a 68-ton M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. The visit, meant to bolster the candidates credibility as a future commander-in-chief, would go down as one of the worst campaign backfires in history.
Following the event, after the reporters laughter subsided and Dukakiss entourage was preparing to leave, one of the candidates traveling aides approached Bennett. Nice event, Matt he deadpanned. It may have cost us the election. But beside that, it was great.
Dukakis and the tank. The image of the diminutive Massachusetts governor pretending to be something he wasnt and, in the process, making a fool of himself on Sept. 13, 1988, has haunted me, as it has every other advance person who has been entrustedfor a few hours or even a few minuteswith a candidates fate.
Like Bennett, I too worked on the Dukakis campaign, and we went on to serve together in the Clinton White House. I sat in countless meetings in which some smartass warned that a stop on the presidents schedule had the makings of a Dukakis in the tank moment. The caution usually came when some type of costume was involved, and the tank ride is still to this day invoked anytime politicians decline to put hats on their headsas President Obama did earlier this year when he was handed a Navy football helmet but refused to try it on. . .
(Excerpt) Read more at politico.com ...
Hah. Beat me to it. GMTA.
Mine’s bigger. :p
Next we’ll learn that Olympia Dukakis only won the Oscar because of political connections.
And The Duke’s nomination acceptance speech punchline was . . “This election’s not (about this, not about that) but about COMPETENCE”
Two months or so later, the stupid grin and wave to the cameras from the Abrams
I think the one photo that show Kerry of who he is NOT is the one he went supposedly duck hunting with “pals”.
But the photo showing somebody else carried the dead ducks or something, iir.
“I lost the election because I made a decision not to respond to the Bush attack campaign, and in retrospect it was a pretty dumb decision.” - Mike Dukakis
You lost because your a weak New England liberal who blew smoke about a “Massachusetts Miracle”.
1) Thank you. Thank you very, very much.
2. Why couldn't you have done the same for Barry? His uncritical media wouldn't laugh at him anyway so it's probably a moot point.
“Everybody” thinks the problem was the helmet.
I respectfully disagree. The problem was his name stenciled across the front. That makes it look cheap, and stupid, and insecure.
The Duke actually served in the US army in Korea and was an Eagle Scout.
Everytime I see this I think of “Spaceballs”....
the Void of Space looking in his gun to see if it is loaded...
Johnny Carson had a great line about Duke in the Tank. It went something along the lines of “with those eyebrows, you look just like the enemy, comrade!”
LOL! I wish I saved that thread of John Kerry. Some had bunny ears, which were funny enough, but my favorite was some FReeper animated the air tube to make it look like JK was being “filled up” with Heinz ketchup.
Howie Carr list ping.
Howie Carr (Boston conserv talk host/columnist/true crime author) has said he has this pic in his office and he wrote under it TANKS FOR NOTHING
Where can we locate Matt Bennett?
It’s really well past time we awarded him with some kind of medal for sparing the nation from a Dukakis Administration.
At least it’s just set for semi-auto fire. Good thing they kept the ammo away.
The late Jerry Williams, talk host, used to say it made him look like Snoopy. (Curse You Red Baron!)
If only this writer had written this column in ‘88, we might have had a Dukakis presidency. /s
When she won the Oscar (tm) for Moonstruck she yelled out “Allright Michael (her cousin) let’s go!”
On the Jerry Williams show on WRKO Boston, a caller sang, to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”: “Unelectable...”
(Sound effect—woman screaming)
PEE WEE HERMAN: So when you hear the secret word...
SCREAM REAL LOUD!
Maybe so. I never did see what was so negative about this photo otherwise.
Hate to think something so trivial is the most memorable event of the campaign. That’s the press for ya’.
Wonder what would’ve happened if Dukakis won and the whole Bush clan had retreated to Maine and Texas...
"Michael Dukakis has opposed virtually every defense system we developed. He opposed new aircraft carriers. He opposed anti-satellite weapons. He opposed four missile systems...the stealth bomber and a ground emergency warning system against nuclear attack. He even opposed our rescue mission to Grenada and our strike on Libya. And now he wants to be our commander in chief. America can't afford that risk."
So people heard what the Duke was about. And saw him in what was clearly a photo op to show he'd support the military. As the man who at one time was his Lt Gov would later say, "I'm John Kerry and I'm...REPORTING FOR DUTY!" Yeah both served but here Dukakis was shown for what he was...
REPORTING FOR DUTY
Methinks Willie Horton's Big Adventure while on a Dukakis furlough had a little bit to do with it, as well.
The press tried to play off the Howie Dean Scream as “the thing” that killed his campaign. It was his far left political rhetoric.
Obama kept it in the bag and just used vague words like “hope”, “change”, and “historic”.
Up to the moment of Dean’s scream he was called “the leading candidate” based mostly on ballot stuffed online “polls”.
Thank Al Gore Junior for bringing that up in the 1988 Democrat primary.
I remember the film. I thought “He looks like a possum eating s### with his head sticking out of the tank and a big grin on his face.
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Although the Willie Horton ad was deemed 'racist,' Willie Horton was never shown in the ad, his race was never mentioned, and all of the 'prisoners' shown going through the revolving turnstile were white.
Try photoshopping out the name tape on the helmet.
I think you’ll find the image less ridiculous that way.
For me, the problem with the image was the hypocrisy ... if you lived through the 1980s, and were paying attention, you know that the democrats spent the whole time deriding and lampooning the Abrams as a waste of money. For Dukakis, the democrats’ democrat, to be campaigning in one was an outrage; the name tape made it into a CHEAP photo-op.
And what’s with the tape, anyway? We know you’re Mike Dukakis. You don’t need to tell us. Besides, real uniform name tapes have a last name only.
Dukakis lost because of Willy Horton. No more, no less.