“We had an enormous, world-historic campaign catastrophe.” Matt Bennett, former Michael Dukakis presidential campaign volunteer

I didn’t give it another thought.” – Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president. That’s Politics 101.” – President Barack Obama

Does anybody remember Michael Dukakis wearing a combat helmet, riding around in an M1A1-Abrahms Main Battle tank in September 1988, to prove he was tough enough for the presidency?

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics’ new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

He just didn’t look right in the way-too-big battle helmet for a candidate who was a little guy … literally.

Dukakis looked even worse riding around in a battle tank circle-after-circle in front of 90 laughing reporters. The tank photo op was a bad idea in which someone … anyone with authority … on the Dukakis campaign needed not only to say, “no,” but “hell no.”

It was only a matter of nanoseconds before the tank footage found its way into the tender mercies of Bush media Meister Roger Ailes and campaign director Lee Atwater. They leapt like coiled vipers and quickly came up with a devastating advertisement, questioning Dukakis’ record on national defense and using the “goofy” tank footage to drive home the point.

What is really sad is that Dukakis advance dude Bennett had put on the very same helmet, looked into the mirror and concluded he looked silly in it. He was convinced it would come across even worse on the diminutive governor.

He called the Boston headquarters to warn them to cancel the event. No one listened. The rest is political history.

When Almost DailyBrett reflects back on this avoidable public relations disaster, one needs to contemplate that Twitter was still a bird, Facebook was a scrap-book, and the name “LinkedIn” would draw blank expressions. And what was a YouTube in 1988?

Today, Web 2.0 (e.g., blogging and social media) would take the tank catastrophe and spread to all corners of the globe within five minutes.

“Which Ever Way the Wind Blows”

Facebook was just being hatched in a Harvard dorm room in 2004. Twitter was two years away from being born. And yet there were millions chatting away on the Internet.kerrywindsurf

Some were discussing John Kerry going one way on his wind-surfing board, and then going the other way, before turning around and then heading in the other direction once again. The footage was set to the Blue Danube Waltz, courtesy of President George W. Bush’s campaign.

The point, which John Kerry’s unfortunate photo-op aided and abetted, was that Kerry was a flip-flopper, particularly in this voting pattern on the Iraq War. The Nantucket windsurfing image, the resulting ad and other factors helped convince the electorate that Kerry was not ready for the White House.bushmission

This is not to suggest that Bush was totally adept at photo opportunities. The “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to declare the end of the Iraq War in 2003 was quickly and repeatedly mocked as the Iraqi insurgency inflicted years of casualties on American troops in the region.

Hillary, the Subway and Five Swipes of the Metro Card

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” – English Idiom

All of this Almost DailyBrett reminiscing brings us to the question of Hillary and the New York Subway platform. That damn electronic MetroCard (sorry Bernie the NYC Subway doesn’t use “tokens” anymore) took five agonizing swipes to finally work for Madam Secretary Clinton.hillarycard

Alas, it was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live (SNL) would turn the subway platform snafu into a skit, also reminding everyone that Hillary has lost seven-out-of-her-last-eight contests to Bernie.

Was the temperamental subway scanner a metaphor of the state of the Clinton campaign?

Wasn’t the advance team supposed to “grease” the card scanner to make damn sure it always worked for Hillary? Isn’t that the job of the advance dudes and dudettes?

Politicians using props and photo opportunities to provide images for campaigns goes back to kissing babies and whistle-stop speeches.

And yet the rules have changed, where the little gets magnified and the catastrophic becomes digitally viral in nanoseconds.

Hillary’s ultimate electoral fate most likely will not be decided because of the humorous Hillary-on-the-subway platform goof-up (Has the former senator from New York ever ridden the subway before?). The “reset button” with now recalcitrant Russia may be more egregious. Guess Hillary knows a thing or two about symbols that go wrong.hillaryreset

Having said that, American political history is riddled with stories of photo-ops gone wrong (e.g., Nixon walking the beach in San Clemente in dress slacks and wingtips). Now with mobile devices and social media the tender-loving-care needed to stage these events is greater than ever.

And if a campaign tanks, the pain will not be felt within hours, but in seconds instead.

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections/videos/tank-ride

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/dukakis-and-the-tank-099119

http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/09/23/bush_ad_plays_on_kerry_windsurfing/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished_speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwQkBfBs958

http://time.com/4285452/hillary-clinton-new-york-subay-metrocard-turnstile/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/04/10/snl-hillary-clinton-subway-newday.cnn/video/playlists/snl-politics/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michele-bachmann-nyc-subway_us_5707d7bce4b04bf520ff4da0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-new-york-saturday-night-live_us_570a58a9e4b01422324940ef

 

 

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