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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stuck in the '80s

I always knew Massachusetts Republicans were a different breed from their national counterparts. While Joe Wilson and his colleagues are stuck in the Reconstruction politics of the 1880s, the Bay State clan has advanced all the way to the 1980s.

And Dukaka-phobia.

How else to explain the bizarre notion by Republican gubernatorial, er, senate, er, gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos that the potential naming of Michael Dukakis as an interim U.S. Senator is an issue that will enable the GOP to ride to victory in Massachusetts in 2010.

It's true there is a cadre of Howie Carr listeners who are charter members of the Dukakis Hate Club and won't let go of false impressions from 20 years ago that the former governor was singlehandedly responsible for the collapse of the economy because of his poor showing at the hands of Lee Atwater-inspired thuggery in 1988.

But there is probably an even larger group who don't have a clue about Atwater (or Willie Horton) and are far more concerned about the future than the past.

Having moved on from inspiring Mihos to spin heads by jumping between the Senate and governor's race in a single day, political brain Dick Morris seems to have moved on to his oldie-but-moldie Dukakis gambit.

In the Herald's less than neutral observation:

Two years after his embarrassing landslide loss in the 1988 presidential race, Dukakis left the state in shambles, leading to huge GOP gains in the Legislature and William Weld in the Corner Office - the start of a 16-year Republican gubernatorial reign.

“It ushered in a whole new era for state politics for a number of years,” Mihos said. “Bill Weld was the beneficiary last time. This time I hope it’s me."
The paper, which already offered a cover of Deval Patrick morphing into Dukakis, goes for a softer side-by-side photo this treatment this time.

But Morris and Mihos seem to be forgetting a key factor: should Patrick make what I think would be a wise choice to name Dukakis as the interim senator, he would have left Washington and returned to his current love for teaching long before the governor's race heats up.

We already know the GOP is going to try and draw the connection between faltering economies and Democratic governors. What else do they have to run on -- fresh ideas?

But this time the Democrats will have an incumbent defending himself in office rather than an ornery college president who tried -- and failed -- to attract the political anger toward his cause.

Plus an electorate loaded with voters who don't have a fig who Dukakis was -- including all the good he accomplished -- before he became the GOP's favorite whipping boy of 1988.

And unless I'm missing something, both the Senate race -- of which Dukakis will not be a part -- and the governor's race is about the 2010s, not the past.

You keep thinkin' Christy, that's what you're good at.

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