February 9, 2003
Dukakis Rides Again
By MARK KATZ
Memo to Governor Mike Dukakis
From: Mark Katz
Subject: Thoughts on 2004
Now that your old rivals Gary Hart and Dick Gephardt have once
again tossed their hats into the ring, it is only natural for people
to recall the 1988 campaign and the Democratic Party's nominee for
president. That was you.
Here are some thoughts on why the time is so right for Mike Dukakis
to run again.
- Today, President Mike Dukakis could negotiate with Mikhail
Gorbachev from a position of real strength.
- The state you once governed so well is ripe for another "Massachusetts
miracle." In fact, your slogan, "good jobs at good wages,"
resonates now more than ever!
- Boston Harbor is clean. No problem there.
- No one has given more speeches on "déjà
voodoo economics" — humongous tax cuts and enormous
defense spending — than you. Suggested warmed-over sound
bite: Bushonomics is déjà-voodoo economics all over
- Your killer stuff on the Strategic Defense Initiative —
"we need star schools, not Star Wars"— still works
- Your running mate, Lloyd Bentsen, was vindicated by time: Dan
Quayle was no Jack Kennedy.
Governor, perhaps the most compelling case to be made for a new
campaign is your track record against a similar-looking field of
In 1988, you vanquished all rivals: an attractive Southern moderate,
Al Gore (attention, John Edwards!); the spoiler, Jesse Jackson (Al
Sharpton, look out!); an avuncular nerd, Paul Simon (Joe Lieberman's
ears are burning); as well as a populist Congressman, Dick Gephardt
(Dick Gephardt beware!). As for John Kerry, certainly your former
lieutenant governor will have no choice but to endorse you like
the good soldier and mensch that he is. Gary Hart? Go ahead and
watch him campaign. You'll be bored.
You may not know that your 1988 campaign had a rapid-response
team, and that I was on it. Here are some of the hard-hitting lines
I should have gotten to you sooner:
- I love the American flag and anyone who suggests otherwise
will get a punch in the nose!
- Hey, wait a minute, Bernie Shaw — that's my wife you
are talking about!
- Willie Horton? Trent Lott!
Governor Dukakis, I strongly believe that you have a second date
with destiny and urge you to run. Al Gore was wise to get out of
the way. You are the guy with the grudge to settle against George
Mark Katz, speechwriter and humorist, was a member of the Dukakis
presidential campaign's rapid-response team.
Author's note: the following lines
did not appear in print
"Read your lips? Read my eyebrows!"
The only former rival of yours that still scares me is
Senator Joseph Biden. That guy has more hair today that he
did in 1988!
Admittedly, that picture of you in the tank did look
silly. But the updated C-41 assault tanks that we would put
you in today is much sleeker and aesthetically pleasing.
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