Saturday, June 19, 2010
Failed Democratic Nominees
treated as intelligent adults did little to help him overcome the pall of failure that shadowed him through much of his term. A terrible economy, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and Ted Kennedy's primary challenge in 1980 didn't help matters (and neither did his black sheep brother, Billy). Carter suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan on November 4, 1980.
The Democrat's Dilemma: Walter Mondale and the Liberal Legacy, Mondale's family and peers had little hope for him succeeding in life: "That Fritz, [Mondale's minister father once confided to a Sunday school aide], he'll never amount to anything." The biography also points out that the future vice president of the United States was sometimes a quitter: "while running the 220-yard dash during the final track meet of his high school career, he abruptly quit without finishing the race. 'What the hell, there's no point in this--I'm not interested in this,' he said to himself." Of course, the young Mondale went on to a distinguished career in the U.S. Senate and a very influential role as Jimmy Carter's vice president from 1977 to 1981. In 1984 he picked an unqualified congresswoman from New York, Geraldine Ferraro, as his running mate, laughed at Ronald Reagan's self-deprecating remarks about age during the second presidential debate and lost the race in a historic landslide. To be fair, no Democrat could have won in '84 (a fact that seems lost on Reagan's re-election campaign manager, Ed Rollins, who has dined out on the victory for decades).
Dukakis: An American Odyssey, Dukakis recalled the outcome of the race for the authors: "I got my head handed to me." The failed high school candidate eventually went on to become the governor of Massachussets and the unlikely Democratic nominee in 1988. Before George HW Bush and Lee Atwater unleashed their legendarily negative campaign against Dukakis, he held a 16 point lead over the sitting vice president in the polls. The governor also had 70% favorability rating (Bush's unfavorability rating in May of 1988 was at more than 40% - unprecedendented at that time). By the time Atwater and Floyd Brown succeeded in making convicted rapist and murderer, Willie Horton, Dukakis's defacto running mate, the race was all but over. Dukakis's unfortunate decision to ride in a tank and his bloodless answer to a debate question about his wife's hypothetical violation and murder sealed his fate. His clueless campaign manager, Susan Estrich, who reportedly arranged for the tank photo op (she denies it) is now one of the liberal punching bags employed by Fox News.
New York Times that he based a small part of the character of rich boy athlete Oliver Barrett IV on Gore. The majority of the inspiration came from Gore's roommate, football player and future Oscar winning actor Tommy Lee Jones. As for the female protagonist, Siegal told the Times: "I did not draw a thing from Tipper." During the 2000 primary race against Senator Bill Bradley, Gore inartfully cited his championing of Internet leglislation in a CNN interview as "I took the initiative in creating the Internet..." which contributed to the public perception (effectvely exploited by the Republicans) of him as a serial exaggerator. Gore's haughty public manner, his early reliance on feminist author Naomi Wolf for wardobe advice and his resistance to using Bill Clinton's campaign help in key states wound up contributing to his electoral loss (including his home state of Tennessee!) to a tongue-tied Texas governor.
lackluster grades. He graduated in 1966, went to Vietnam and served on a swift boat and eventually was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. He came home to protest the war and went into politics, becoming the junior senator from Massacussets in 1985 after a stint as Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor. Somehow, Bob Shrum--Kerry's utterly useless campaign manager--allowed his candidate's war record to become a liability. Indeed, Kerry's inability to quickly and forcefully rebut the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization's blatant lies about his service record helped sink his chances of unseating Texas Air National Guard veteran Bush. Of course, the senator's wooden personality and half-crazed wife didn't help matters much either.