Tag Archive: Kitty Dukakis


As a relatively new press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian in 1987, your author was more than a little surprised to learn that Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was paying an unscheduled visit to his colleague and my boss, “The Iron Duke.”

Dukakis was standing before the governor’s office door in the cabinet room in the State Capitol in Sacramento. He was cordial and polite, and apologized for the unexpected visit. The 1980s were a different time, more to the point a better era.

The political media was tailing along with Governor Dukakis that particular Wednesday, May 20 as he was running for the 1988 Democratic nomination for president. Dukakis was certainly not looking for encouragement as George Deukmejian was a Reagan-Bush Republican. And yet, George Deukmejian made time for his National Governor’s Association colleague and friend, Michael Dukakis.

My boss was never enamored about “surprises,” but he gladly welcomed Dukakis. The two demonstrated to America then and now that civility can reign, even if he political differences run deep.

Years later, George Deukmejian and his wife, Gloria, were sitting on the beach in Hana, Maui about to enjoy a picnic lunch, when a voice cried out … “Duke!” It was the other Duke, Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty. One can only imagine they had some great stories to tell that afternoon and got along swimmingly.

As we celebrate what would have been George Deukmejian’s 92nd. birthday tomorrow on D-Day (June 6), we need to contemplate that America in general and California in particular were very different places when the Duke was governor from 1983-1991.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to champion that Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018) is the most popular chief executive in blue state California’s modern political history by more than a two-to-one margin (66 percent approval, 30 percent disapproval)

Better than The Gipper. Better than Jerry. Better than AH-Nold.

Loss of Civility

George Deukmejian privately lamented the loss of civility, even in tamer times … night-and-day different times.

He remembered his policy debates on the floor of the California State Senate as the Republican minority leader against George Moscone, the Democratic majority leader. And when the rhetorical exchange ended, the two Georges could be seen having a glass of wine. Seems quaint now. Actually it sounds better.

George Deukmejian was not one for rhetorical questions. Subsequently, his press secretary avoided them like the plague. And yet when Almost DailyBrett posed a rhetorical question on the 1982 campaign trail — ‘how many terms did he envision as governor?’ — He immediately responded,”two terms.” Even though California did not have term limits at the time, Deukmejian knew then and there … there would be no third term.

His reasoning. Like any governor, you want the people of California to ratify your administration and policy direction through re-election (e.g., 61-37 percent). If a governor runs for a third term, there is the problem of the tyranny of accumulated decisions and with each one the number of disappointed people inevitably grows.

Only one California Governor was elected a third term, Earl Warren (later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court). One other pursued a third term (e.g., Pat Brown) and he lost to a certain movie actor.

What was his name?

As Almost DailyBrett looks over the 2020 political minefield, there is no chivalry. George Patton and Erwin Rommel will not come down from their tanks, shake hands, and then engage in battle with the victor winning the war.

There is zero civility similar to Deukmejian-Dukakis, Deukmejian-Moscone and the more celebrated relationship between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.

Today the President of the United States refuses to shake the hand of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and she responds by tearing up his State of the Union speech. Their collective hatred went downhill from there.

Your author certainly will not scold anyone for thinking that today’s divisions and tribal hatreds are now a permanent fixture of our troubled society. After all, politics is indeed a contact sport.

There was a lot of heat in political kitchens (paraphrasing the famous Harry S. Truman quote) even in the 1980s, but there were also times of consideration, politeness, cordiality and celebrated instances when civility indeed did reign across the fruited plain.

Happy Birthday Iron Duke. We miss you. We will always love you.

Some day this author will hopefully join you for a glass of wine in heaven, and ponder the lessons of the 1980s.

https://www.ctpost.com/politics/article/Jerry-Brown-boasts-approval-ratings-higher-than-8355461.php

https://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/05/08/george-deukmejian-ex-governor-of-california-dies/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/tearing-up-the-speech-paying-the-pr-price/

 

 “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” – CNN anchor Bernard Shaw’s opening debate question to 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis

“No, I don’t Bernard. And I think you know I opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don’t see any evidence that’s it’s a deterrent and I think there are more effective ways to deal with violent crime …” — Dukakis’ answer to Shaw’s question.

How could Shaw have asked that question? More astonishingly, how could Dukakis have failed to explode at it?” – Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, “Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars”

The unthinkable and startling image of the first lady of Massachusetts being raped and murdered was offered up by a respected CNN anchor, Bernard Shaw, from your father’s CNN of 1988 … obviously not the hyper-partisan CNN of today.

Some reportedly accused Shaw of throwing a fast-ball right down the plate for Dukakis to angrily hit the ball out of the ballpark. Shaw emphatically denied this assertion.

Dukakis didn’t even swing. His wonkish answer without showing any vitriol or emotion about Shaw raising the spectre of a raped and murdered Kitty Dukakis, effectively ended the campaign of the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The author of Almost DailyBrett distinctly remembers settling into his seat for the October 13, 1988 second presidential debate at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, when Shaw serving as moderator opened the proceedings with his provocative (understatement) question.

To most in the audience and millions more at home, Shaw’s question was shocking, one-sided as it did not apply to both candidates … Vice President George H.W. Bush and Dukakis.

Having said that, Dukakis and his campaign team had to know that a death penalty question was coming. Looking back, the Shaw question was a great opportunity for the Massachusetts governor to express outrage, thus firing up his supporters and maybe even the electorate.

Can you imagine one of today’s CNN anchor/correspondent asking that kind of question to a Democratic standard bearer in Donald Trump’s America?

Whattyathink Anderson Cooper? Don Lemon? Jim Acosta? Chris Cuomo? Jake Tapper?

Are There Any Objective Reporters Left To Moderate Presidential Debates?

“News people are no longer trained that they have to bury their personal views and bend over backwards to be fair. That concept went out the window a long time ago.” — Edwin J. Salzman, former Sacramento Bee Capital Bureau Chief

“ … If you have a son in the Marine Corps, and that you don’t trust the commander-in-chief (Trump)” – ABC Martha Raddatz, crying on 2016 election night.

Do you think Raddatz will ever be asked again to serve as a fair, objective and dispassionate presidential debate moderator?

How about noted-for-his-personal-integrity, Brian Williams of MSNBC?

More to the point, is there anyone at Jeff Zucker’s  CNN, who could be trusted to fill this critical role?

Almost DailyBrett has asked this question before and will pose it again: Where is this generation’s Walter Cronkite?

More to the point: Where is the modern day equivalent of Bernard Shaw?

“Never laugh at Ted Turner too early …”

There was a time when America supposedly needed only three networks: ABC, CBS and NBC.

CNN (Cable News Network) was Ted Turner’s dream, which after initial scoffing and snickering became the first all-news, all-the-time network.

The network was there to cover live virtually any significant event regardless of its origin around the world … This was Bernard Shaw’s CNN. He served as the network’s lead anchor from 1980-2001.

When the San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the 6.9 Richter Scale Loma Prieta Earthquake on October 17, 1989, my boss California Governor George Deukmejian was sleeping in an airport hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

By the means of a continuously open line from our office to the governor’s hotel room, and just as important through the reporting of CNN, Governor Deukmejian was able to direct the state’s response to the earthquake from nine-time zones away.

California’s Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy was in San Francisco, when Loma Prieta struck with no phone connections, zero television (including CNN) and literally no way to communicate.

This may seem like a stretch, but Almost DailyBrett appreciated at the time that Bernard Shaw’s CNN had become America’s go-to-network for news and information.

Alas, a shift to über-partisan journalism accelerated with the creation of MSNBC, serving the left, and Fox News, oriented to the right, both in 1996.

CNN continued with its emphasis on breaking news stories, but some concluded it was Melba toast, thus suffering in the Nielsen Ratings, compared to MSNBC and Fox News.

Today, CNN has morphed into the second coming of MSNBC with a 24-7-365 stream of angry talking-heads’ invective directed against a hated president. The country already has a MSNBC, it doesn’t need another one.

Does any CNN anchor today exhibit the professionalism, integrity and objectivity to dispassionately moderate a 2020 general election debate?

During Bernard Shaw’s era, the answer was an emphatic, “yes.”

Today the answer is “no,” … “hell no.”

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/lists/debatemoments/bernieshaw.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1844704_1844706_1844712,00.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/31/raddatz-media-watching-each-other-a-little-more-after-missteps-reporting-on-trump-378739

https://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-president-martha-raddatz-tears-up-abc-news/

“Good moments can be more important than good arguments.” – Former Presidential Campaign Manager Karl Rove

“Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” – Former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen to former Senator Dan Quayle

“There you go again.” – Ronald Reagan to Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter, left, and Republican Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, shake hands Tuesday night, October 28, 1980, in Cleveland, Ohio, before debating before a nationwide television audience. (AP Photo/stf)

President Jimmy Carter, left, and Republican Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, shake hands Tuesday night, October 28, 1980, in Cleveland, Ohio … (AP Photo/stf)

It was Reagan who walked over to shake Carter’s hand after their sole debate, not the other way around. Courtesy matters.

What will be THE moment that transforms Monday’s watershed presidential debate — maybe 100 million viewers — between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and business mogul Donald Trump?

What will be the indelible image (i.e., George H.W. Bush looking at his watch; Al Gore moving aggressively toward George W. Bush; aftershave dripping off the face of a haggard Richard Nixon; Mitt Romney’s ‘Big Bird’ remark), which will instantly go viral on literally millions of mobile devices and other second screens?

Remember when mom repeatedly and maddenly told you: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”?

Temperament and persona matters in a presidential debate, not the ability to recite wonkish policy and stats.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was privileged to attend one debate, the second encounter between then Vice President George W. Bush and former Massachusetts Michael Dukakis. The debate will be forever remembered for Bernard Shaw’s (CNN) opening question to Dukakis and the governor’s response:

Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”

DUKAKIS: “No, I don’t, Bernard, and I think you know that I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don’t see any evidence that it’s a deterrent …”dukakisdebate

It was not your command of criminal justice issues, governor … the question pertained to your wife being brutally raped and murdered. Shaw’s question was woefully unfair. Where was your revulsion? Didn’t you have any concern for the horrific image of Kitty being raped and murdered?

Instead, “I don’t see any evidence that it’s a deterrent …” Were you a robot that night, governor? Where was the pathos?

Divorce Court?

The nationwide and swing-state polls are only snapshots in time at this particular moment. They will change after Monday.

Hillary has a lead in the horse race and most importantly in the Electoral College. The race is her’s to lose and she is doing her best to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

When it comes to boring wonkish detail (prose), no one can beat her. Monday’s debate is not a spelling bee. Will Hillary pile on Trump and his “basket of deplorables”? Will she offer more status quo or a vision of the future?

Conversely, which Donald Trump is going to show up? There are three debates, each lasting 90-minutes. Can Trump exhibit presidential discipline for four-and-one-half hours? Almost DailyBrett is taking the ‘under.’

The elite media of course will collectively declare a winner, most likely even as the debate is taking place, forcing one side to face the difficult chore of defending their champion in the post-debate Hofstra University spin room. Will the media winner/loser declaration drive follow-up polling, thus elevating the stature of the elites in communications? Bet on it.

But what if the event is judged as a tie? Doesn’t a tie go to the runner?

The 2016 election is a contest for an open-seat as Barack Obama is completing his second term. Who is the challenger (e.g., “the runner”)? One could argue that Trump holds that role, considering Hillary’s quarter-decade of more in politics (i.e., First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State).

Is a tie, a tie? No. It would be a win for Trump as the challenger always has the advantage.

Hillary will naturally swing for the fences, trying to expose The Donald’s lack of gravitas and more importantly trying to get under his legendary thin skin. Will The Donald take the bait? Your author is taking the “over.”

So … what are the best strategies for both candidates? Be offensive without being offensive. As Rove has suggested talk to moderator Lester Holt and therefore the nation, and not to be other candidate.

No one wants to watch a rerun of “Divorce Court.” And we don’t wonkish prose. What we need and what makes better theatre and “good moments” is passionate poetry, pointing to a brighter future or that Shining City on the Hill.

Will the debate degenerate into a bitter “he said, she said” series of exchanges? Quite possibly.

The goal is to win, but also to keep faith with mumsy’s “… It’s how you say it.”

PALM BEACH, FL: Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

PALM BEACH, FL: Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

Maybe the Donald should remember he invited the Clintons to his third wedding in 2005, and Hillary should reflect she was sitting in the first row. There may be more poetry in being the first to walk over to shake the other candidate’s hand.

Maybe a single act of kindness will be is remembered from Monday’s debate?

Don’t count on it.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/when-presidential-debates-matter-1474498044

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/business/presidential-debate-moderators-lester-holt-chris-wallace.html?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/jul/21/carlos-curbelo/clintons-really-did-attend-donald-trumps-2005-wedd/

 

 

 

 

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