The meme now skittering around the Internet that John Kerry 2004 equals Michael Dukakis 1988 may be true in that Kerry could be headed for a similar electoral disaster, but it is a huge insult to Michael Dukakis.
Dukakis, whatever his (considerable) deficiencies as a candidate, was a man who usually tried to fight for his principles, whether you agreed with them or not. Even in his worst moments like the stammering answer to the hypothetical about his wife being murdered during a debate on capital punishment, you see a man wrestling with his commitment to an issue.
Kerry is the opposite. He has never seemed committed to any issue. That goes back to the days when he supposedly was against the war in Vietnam and then volunteered to fight in it (the only one I knew of at Yale then to do such a thing – we all assumed it was resume padding for future electoral battles and we were right). And now he brags about his heroism in that same war after coming back to oppose it vehemently. No wonder Clinton is advising him to shut up. I’d advise him to resign. To have a man with this lack of values in the White House in this era is terrifying.
Leave Michael Dukakis alone. He’s been the butt of enough jokes. He’s teaching government now (at UCLA and elsewhere) and I’m told by a friend who would know he is an excellent professor. Good for him.
Maybe we should put it this way to the new “JFK”: I knew Michael Dukakis. And you, sir, are no Michael Dukakis!
UPDATE: Commenter packsoldier below reports that Dukakis did not “stammer” during the debate when confronted with the question about his wife, but delivered a pat answer. He’s probably right. My memory is faulty (it’s been sixteen years). But this does not change my overall point that Dukakis mostly had the courage of his convictions while Kerry does not seem to have convictions at all.