November 08, 2006

Dukakis In A Tank As the votes are counted from todays USA mid-term elections, and inspired by this Simpsons episode, why not take a moment to remember how a single photo-op can affect a campaign.

"Public relations failure Michael Dukakis on tank Enlarge Michael Dukakis on tank Dukakis has been blamed for allowing "liberal" to come to be considered a derogatory term. He was criticized during the campaign for a perceived softness on defense issues, particularly the controversial "Star Wars" SDI program, which Dukakis promised to scale down (although not cancel). In response to this, Dukakis orchestrated what would become the key image of his campaign, albeit not for the reasons he intended. In September 1988, Dukakis visited the General Dynamics plant in Michigan to take part in a photo op in an M1 Abrams tank. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom had been photographed in a similar situation in 1986, riding in a Challenger while wearing a scarf; although somewhat out of character, the image was effective and helped Thatcher's re-election prospects. Dukakis' "tank moment" was much less successful. Filmed wearing a safety helmet that seemed too large for his head, Dukakis looked awkward, out of place, and decidedly uncomfortable in a military setting. Footage of Dukakis was used by the Bush campaign as evidence he would not make a good commander-in-chief, and "Dukakis in the tank" remains shorthand for backfired public relations outings."

  • Whenever I hear "Dukakis" I think of Donnie Darko. That's Dukakis in the tank, too, I s'pose.
  • The Official Portrait looks like Cosmo Kramer.
  • The Leader of the Opposition in NZ, Don Brash, had a couple of very dodgy photo ops set up within the past year, neither of which I can find good photos of online. During the last election campaign, he was filmed trying to climb into a stockcar through the roof in tight racing gear and dress shoes, looking horribly awkward and middle-aged. Earlier this year after he messed up a press conference, he was filmed the next day literally walking the plank at a marina. I believe he has a whole new PR staff now.
  • We had a Conservative evangelical redneck dimwit prancing about in a shorty wetsuit here. eeew.
  • And yet a seemingly dimwitted, slack-jawed sociopath can rock up on an air craft carrier dressed up in a uniform he did his best to avoid wearing during the Viet Nam War, declared "Mission Accomplished" and that is deemed something to respect.
  • And then there was Jimmy Carter and the rabbit
  • The "Mission Accomplished" photo op should be haunting Bush at this point. This should be thrown in his face every time there's a major incident. His dad's vomiting in the Japanese prime minister's lap was a remarkably strong image, and I think it hurt Bush Sr.'s reelection chances (though not as much as "Read my lips. No new taxes." and, of course, Perot.) According to wikipedia, the Japanese coined a term for the puking incident: "bushu-suru" - "to vomit embarassingly in public" or "do the Bush thing". Heh.
  • Imagine how bad a photo-op could hurt if he was shaking hands with Saddam. Nobody could survive that.
  • There was Neil Kinnock doing his 'he's fallen in the water' bit on the beach at Brighton in a photo-op stroll with his wife at the pre-election Labour conference in 1992 (I think).
  • God! Neil Kinnock! What a fuckin' twot he was. I'd forgotten him. (images of his Spitting Image puppet race thru' my mind)
  • The article said Dukakis got more of the popular vote than Clinton did in 1992, thanks to - can I finish? Can I finish?! - Perot. I didn't know that. But yeah, "Codpiece Accomplished" should be used whenever possible. It is true, IMMO, that Dukakis' campaign is single-handedly responsible for the term "liberal" being able to be used as a negative term by any and all opponents. Of course, Bush Sr. and his boy Ronnie had some fuckin evil spin-doctors working hard to get people to vote against their own interests. Grrr.
  • Dukakis and Jalad at Tanagra.
  • Poor old banana-loving Robert Stanfield was undone by a famous fumble.
  • I doubt it was the fumble that prevented Stanfield from being Prime Minister - he was running against Trudeau-mania. That was the year Tommy Douglas was also in the running as leader of the NDP, and though he was a brilliant speaker and had all the positions most of the large youth vote supported, he also lost to the slim guy in the fancy car. Apparently Douglas's famous story of Mouseland was originally told by Claire Gillis, but it's timeless and everyone should read it. Also -- how is Dukakis responsible for "liberal" being an insult? Wouldn't that be the fault of the consistent blackwashing campaign by rightists? (As much as they complain about being the media being biased left, the reality is the opposite).
  • Wouldn't that be the fault of the consistent blackwashing campaign by rightists? The constant blackwashing started after Dukakis failed to respond to Bush Sr.'s use of it as an insult. A strong immediate response could have prevented almost two decades of bullshit wordfuckery. But nooooo - he was too liberal. Dammit!