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Dukakis and the Tank. . .The inside story of the worst campaign photo op ever.
Politico ^ | November 17, 2013 | By Josh King

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 candidate’s 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 Dukakis’s entourage was preparing to leave, one of the candidate’s 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 wasn’t 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 entrusted—for a few hours or even a few minutes—with a candidate’s 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 president’s 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 heads—as 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 ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: dukakis; dukakis1988; jumpedtheshark; massachusettsmiracle; smokeandmirrors
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Very lengthy article about political imaging.
1 posted on 11/19/2013 12:35:32 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee
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To: Brad from Tennessee

2 posted on 11/19/2013 12:37:53 PM PST by FReepaholic (Stupidity is not a crime, so you're free to go.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee
 photo Kerryinbunnysuit_zps8a115c05.jpg
3 posted on 11/19/2013 12:38:31 PM PST by Zeneta
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To: FReepaholic

Hah. Beat me to it. GMTA.


4 posted on 11/19/2013 12:38:58 PM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Zeneta

Mine’s bigger. :p


5 posted on 11/19/2013 12:39:20 PM PST by FReepaholic (Stupidity is not a crime, so you're free to go.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee; Revolting cat!

Next we’ll learn that Olympia Dukakis only won the Oscar because of political connections.


6 posted on 11/19/2013 12:39:40 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

7 posted on 11/19/2013 12:39:46 PM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Who knew that one day professional wrestling would be less fake than professional journalism?)
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To: FReepaholic
Thanks for the memories. Your graphic easily beats the Dukakis/tank image for loonyness.
8 posted on 11/19/2013 12:41:04 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee (A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.)
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To: Zeneta

9 posted on 11/19/2013 12:41:17 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Brad from Tennessee
 photo dukakis_tank.jpg
10 posted on 11/19/2013 12:41:31 PM PST by Zeneta
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To: FReepaholic

11 posted on 11/19/2013 12:41:59 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Zeneta

Thanks.


12 posted on 11/19/2013 12:42:14 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee (A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.)
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To: Responsibility2nd
Reporting for doodie!


13 posted on 11/19/2013 12:43:49 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Zeneta


You don't get the full ridiculous effect in a still picture. You need to see the giant head wobbling on his pencil neck like a bobblehead doll.
14 posted on 11/19/2013 12:44:06 PM PST by Paine in the Neck (Is John's moustache long enough YET?)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

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


15 posted on 11/19/2013 12:44:09 PM PST by A_Former_Democrat ("I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,")
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To: FReepaholic

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.


16 posted on 11/19/2013 12:44:34 PM PST by Sir Napsalot (Pravda + Useful Idiots = CCCP; JournOList + Useful Idiots = DopeyChangey!)
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To: a fool in paradise

17 posted on 11/19/2013 12:45:14 PM PST by massmike (If I like my tagline,I can keep it! Obama said so..........)
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To: Brad from Tennessee
He made it into a Futurama episode. I wish I could get a better pic of "The Fighting Dukaki".


18 posted on 11/19/2013 12:47:35 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Zeneta

“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”.


19 posted on 11/19/2013 12:48:06 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Zeneta

20 posted on 11/19/2013 12:48:42 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: Brad from Tennessee
To the folks who organized that photo op, two things

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.

21 posted on 11/19/2013 12:49:20 PM PST by hometoroost
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To: Zeneta

“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.

IMO. YMMV.


22 posted on 11/19/2013 12:49:53 PM PST by NorthMountain
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To: Paine in the Neck

The Duke actually served in the US army in Korea and was an Eagle Scout.


23 posted on 11/19/2013 12:50:33 PM PST by nascarnation (Wish everyone you see a "Gay Kwanzaa")
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To: Brad from Tennessee
some_text
24 posted on 11/19/2013 12:51:58 PM PST by 728b (Never cry over something that can not cry over you.)
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To: Zeneta

Everytime I see this I think of “Spaceballs”....


25 posted on 11/19/2013 12:52:36 PM PST by Rumplemeyer (The GOP should stand its ground - and fix Bayonets)
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To: 728b

the Void of Space looking in his gun to see if it is loaded...


26 posted on 11/19/2013 12:54:49 PM PST by Rumplemeyer (The GOP should stand its ground - and fix Bayonets)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

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!”


27 posted on 11/19/2013 12:55:51 PM PST by DemforBush (A candy-colored clown, they call the sandman...)
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To: Zeneta

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.


28 posted on 11/19/2013 12:56:44 PM PST by boop (I had no IDEA I'd be paying for Obamacare. I thought it would be a rich guy.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee; Andonius_99; Andy'smom; Antique Gal; Big Guy and Rusty 99; bitt; Barset; ...

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


29 posted on 11/19/2013 1:00:56 PM PST by raccoonradio
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To: Brad from Tennessee

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.


30 posted on 11/19/2013 1:00:56 PM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: 728b

At least it’s just set for semi-auto fire. Good thing they kept the ammo away.


31 posted on 11/19/2013 1:01:25 PM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: NorthMountain

>>the helmet.

The late Jerry Williams, talk host, used to say it made him look like Snoopy. (Curse You Red Baron!)


32 posted on 11/19/2013 1:01:45 PM PST by raccoonradio
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To: Brad from Tennessee

If only this writer had written this column in ‘88, we might have had a Dukakis presidency. /s


33 posted on 11/19/2013 1:02:32 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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Impeach Obama

Support Free Republic.
Thank you!

34 posted on 11/19/2013 1:02:53 PM PST by RedMDer (Happy with this, America? Make your voices heard. 2014 is just around the corner. ~ Sarah Palin)
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To: a fool in paradise

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...”


(from same show)
PEE WEE HERMAN (Howie Carr nicknamed Dukakis pee wee):
What’s the secret word today?

DUKAKIS: Taxes...

(Sound effect—woman screaming)

PEE WEE HERMAN: So when you hear the secret word...
SCREAM REAL LOUD!


35 posted on 11/19/2013 1:05:04 PM PST by raccoonradio
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To: Paine in the Neck

Maybe so. I never did see what was so negative about this photo otherwise.


36 posted on 11/19/2013 1:06:41 PM PST by Professional Engineer (I am not cynical. /s)
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To: boop
...I wish I saved that thread of John Kerry. Some had bunny ears,...


37 posted on 11/19/2013 1:09:36 PM PST by FReepaholic (Stupidity is not a crime, so you're free to go.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Today this sort of thing gets votes...
38 posted on 11/19/2013 1:12:17 PM PST by outofsalt ("If History teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything")
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To: Brad from Tennessee

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...


39 posted on 11/19/2013 1:12:53 PM PST by Forgotten Amendments (I remember when a President having an "enemies list" was a scandal. Now, they have a kill list.)
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To: Professional Engineer
Film at link about 6:35 shows the ad and it's mentioned it aired on 10/18/88 during World Series.

"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

40 posted on 11/19/2013 1:15:26 PM PST by raccoonradio
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To: a fool in paradise
You lost because your a weak New England liberal who blew smoke about a “Massachusetts Miracle”.

Methinks Willie Horton's Big Adventure while on a Dukakis furlough had a little bit to do with it, as well.

41 posted on 11/19/2013 1:17:22 PM PST by Scoutmaster (I'd rather be at Philmont)
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To: FReepaholic
Adorable.

Thanks. :)

42 posted on 11/19/2013 1:20:06 PM PST by boop (I had no IDEA I'd be paying for Obamacare. I thought it would be a rich guy.)
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To: Forgotten Amendments

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”.


43 posted on 11/19/2013 1:20:59 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Forgotten Amendments

Up to the moment of Dean’s scream he was called “the leading candidate” based mostly on ballot stuffed online “polls”.


44 posted on 11/19/2013 1:21:37 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Scoutmaster

Thank Al Gore Junior for bringing that up in the 1988 Democrat primary.


45 posted on 11/19/2013 1:22:47 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Paine in the Neck

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.


46 posted on 11/19/2013 1:27:02 PM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: All


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47 posted on 11/19/2013 1:29:38 PM PST by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: a fool in paradise
Thanks. Ted Kennedy had previously brought it up in an election as well.

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.

48 posted on 11/19/2013 1:32:20 PM PST by Scoutmaster (I'd rather be at Philmont)
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To: raccoonradio

Shrug ...

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.


49 posted on 11/19/2013 1:33:31 PM PST by NorthMountain
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Dukakis lost because of Willy Horton. No more, no less.


50 posted on 11/19/2013 1:35:27 PM PST by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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