Great Moments in Presidential Debates: 1988

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This is one of my favorites and to me one of the most frustrating moments in American politics. I was in the Congo at the time so only heard about this when I got back.

A little background on my thinking on this one.

When I moved to Massachusetts, Dukakis had previously been governor but was replaced with a conservative Republican known as King, who turned out to be a total disaster, so Dukakis got re-elected, as it were, at the next available opportunity. He was a good governor, smart, made good decisions, and Sheparded the development of the East Coast’s version off Silicon Valley (known as The 128 Belt).

When he was asked this question, he actually gave the CORRECT answer, but it may have lost him the election and subsequent to that election he was vilified by Democrats for being a bad candidate. But really, he was simply an excellent Democratic governor from an eastern liberal state thrown into the politics of Bizarro Land where when faced with the fundamental question … do you accept the basic tenets of our civilization or not, he said “yes” rather than “no.”

I love the expression on his face when he was first asked the question. Subtle, but clearly a “wtf” moment.

Bernard Shaw, by the way, is the one who should have been vilified for asking this question.

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2 thoughts on “Great Moments in Presidential Debates: 1988

  1. I always thought Dukakis should have gotten angry at the question, responding with something like “hey, I answered your question. I’m against the death penalty. You’re just being morbid, you sick bastard.”
    Dukakis got criticized for some other stuff that shouldn’t have been an issue, either–like going back to Massachusetts after the convention to take care of governor business–you know, doing his job. Also, the famous tank picture really wasn’t much of an issue, or shouldn’t have been.
    I also feel like this was the election where the republicans really started to make issues over pointless shows of patriotism, like the pledge of allegiance, flag burning and so forth, as well as trying to make the ACLU sound like some radical, un-American organization and equating “liberal” with “unpatriotic.” It was the beginning of the “real American” trope so prevalent among conservatives today. As vapid as Reagan’s campaigns were, he never pissed me off as much as G.H.W. Bush.

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