In honor of election day I decided to trot out a oldie but a goodie, one of the best mergers of military hardware and presidential politics. More after the break on the history of the image, but as a public service I’ll include a famous quote from one of America’s most popular politicians, John Van Buren. “Vote early and vote often.” From US News:
Twenty years after his loss to George H. W. Bush, Michael Dukakis is perhaps his own toughest critic. In 1988, then Governor Dukakis used the “Massachusetts Miracle”—the transformation of his state into an economic engine—to spellbind Democrats in the primaries. But the magic didn’t work in the general election; he won only 10 states and the District of Columbia. The photo of Dukakis with a dopey grin and a huge helmet aboard a tank was turned into an ad ridiculing him as soft on defense. And the story of Willie Horton, a Massachusetts prisoner who killed a woman while on furlough, was used as a racially charged accusation that Dukakis was no crime fighter.
And from the interview itself:
Some analysts believe the image of you in the tank did you in.
That didn’t beat me. If we had run a decent national campaign, that wouldn’t have had any effect.
Bush used that image in an ad describing you as soft on defense. The irony is that you supported a buildup in conventional weapons like tanks.
I was at the tank factory to make that point, obviously. Now, should I have been in the tank? Probably not, in retrospect. But these days when people ask me, “Did you get here in a tank?” I always respond by saying, “No, and I’ve never thrown up all over the Japanese prime minister.” But, you know, things happen.
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