and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Tuesday, July 13, 2006

Dukakis:  Gone, but not forgotten . . . and struggling back

We are going to do an “institutional memory release” every time we see or hear Dukakis attempting to rewrite history.

This week it happened on “Greater Boston” ... as the Duke blamed Romney-Healey for the Big Digaster. If they’d only listened to me, he insisted, everything would have been fine.

July 18, 2006
If they’d only listened to Dukakis . . ????
Make him go aWAYYYYY

We of course are loving the sight of the Democrat Party making a complete fool of itself by publicly stating that its own candidates don’t have the maturity or judgment to create their own ads.

If this is true, and I for one don’t think it is, then the last person who should be in charge of maturity/judgment issues is former Governor Mike Dukakis....

I understand his sensitivity on the issue of negative ads, but I’m surprised, after what Dukakis did to the Commonwealth, that he shows his face in public here.

July 10, 2006
Democrat Party Babysits its Candidates

The state Democratic Party has created a four-member panel, headed by former governor Michael S. Dukakis, that will review campaign advertisements and publicly rebuke candidates who use negative attacks.

The Boston Globe
Sunday, July 9, 2006
Democrats seek to curb attack ads

Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

The little man with the big ego is back, trying to rewrite history and forge himself some sort of legacy as the state Democrats' elder statesman.  Who'd have ever thought that former governor Michael Stanley Dukakis would dare show himself in public after the damage he did to the Commonwealth, never mind start lecturing us again?

Michael S. Dukakis, "The Duke," is back in our faces telling us how much better off we were under his illusionary "Massachusetts Miracle" that never was.  Michael Dukakis has the audacity to criticize Governor Romney for his out-of-state travels while he runs for President of the United States -- as though we forget what The Duke did for most of 1987-88, when he became the Democrats' candidate for the very same office -- still collecting his state taxpayers-funded salary, while Mitt Romney takes no salary from the taxpayers.

Michael Dukakis, have you no shame?  Do you think we've possibly forgotten you and your true legacy so soon?  Heck, Duke, we're still paying your "temporary" income tax increase seventeen years later -- we remember you well every April 15th, oh do we ever.

No Michael, we have not forgotten you or your true legacy -- and we intend to make sure that nobody else forgets either.

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Sunday, July 9, 2006

Democrats seek to curb attack ads
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff

The state Democratic Party has created a four-member panel, headed by former governor Michael S. Dukakis, that will review campaign advertisements and publicly rebuke candidates who use negative attacks.

Party chairman Philip W. Johnston created the panel and will serve on it, along with Dukakis and Cameron F. Kerry, brother of US Senator John F. Kerry; and Katherine M. Clark of Melrose, a former state Senate candidate who is chairing a statewide campaign effort for the Democratic Party. Johnston, elected party chairman in 2000, said he believes that a major reason many Democratic nominees for governor have failed to win in general elections is the barrage of negative ads that fill the airways and are mailed to voters during primaries.

"I believe the party has a real responsibility to do what it can to minimize the political damage to our nominees during the primary," Johnston said. "This initiative can act as a deterrent to candidates and make their media consultants think twice before they produce harshly negative commercials attacking their opponents."

Johnston conceded the panel will have no formal authority. If a Democratic candidate for governor uses a negative or attack advertisement against one of his opponents, the panel would send a letter of rebuke in hopes the public scolding would shame him into dropping the advertisements. But the party chairman said he is convinced that the panel, led by a former governor, who was the target of several notorious attack ads as a Democratic presidential candidate in 1988, will have enough clout to deter campaigns from resorting to the tactics.

Johnston said the panel will determine what ads are considered attack ads, though he acknowledged that there are no clear criteria for concluding that an ad is unfairly negative. He said the sort of ad that the panel will take issue with are those "of a highly personal nature which the average voter would have considered to have crossed the line as being very unfair." While details are still being worked out, he said decisions will probably be made by consensus.

"If they cross the line, we will send a letter to the candidates and tell them that it is unfair and take the ad down," he said. "We believe the real force will be that it will act as a deterrent."

The strategy, unheard of in Massachusetts politics, is being implemented as the Democrats try to recapture the governor's office after 16 years of a Republican hold on the state's top post.

Some critics doubt that Johnston's idea will work because attack ads are considered effective methods of campaigning. The panel was also criticized by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, one of the three Democrats running for governor.

Corey Welford, a Reilly spokesman, called the creation of the panel a "silliness that you would expect from some good government group than from your own party." He also said it was a "distraction" from the party's responsibilities to raise money to defeat Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the GOP candidate for governor.

"The voters are plenty skilled in making judgments in these matters and the candidate that crosses the line always pays a price come election day," Welford said. He said Reilly intends to run a "positive campaign that focuses on populist themes" and his record.

Democratic candidates Deval Patrick and Christopher Gabrieli voiced no objections to the panel, though they said they would like to hear more details about it from Johnston.

So far, the Democratic race for governor has been relatively genteel, with the candidates focused largely on issues. But, as the Sept. 19 primary approaches, the three candidates are expected to spend millions of dollars on television ads. Traditionally, as primary day draws near, candidates increasingly attack each other on the airwaves with particular emphasis on the front-runner.

Patrick is seen by many observers as a likely target of such advertising, in large part because he is considered the current front-runner in the race, though all three of candidates may become targets. Reilly, in debates, has already focused on Patrick's membership on the board of the parent company of a controversial mortgage company, Ameriquest.

"We fully expect discussion on all those issues," said Doug Rubin, a senior adviser to Patrick's campaign, referring to his candidate's resume. "But we think when voters have all the information, they will realize that Deval's experience and background is what they need in the next governor."

Reilly's eight-year record as attorney general is also expected to get strong scrutiny. Gabrieli's background in the venture capital business is potential fodder for attack ads. Patrick last month sent out a video e-mail to supporters attacking Gabrieli for saying he may spend as much as $15.36 million in the primary.

In 2002, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Shannon O'Brien, who led in the polls for most of the primary campaign, emerged from a four-way fight wounded after several rivals attacked her in television commercials. Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham's ad criticized her management of the state pension fund.

O'Brien lost the general election to Mitt Romney, who had no opposition in the Republican primary. She lost about one-third of labor union voters in the general election, said Johnston, blaming the barrage of negative ads from fellow Democrats in the bruising primary.

"I am of the firm belief that we lost the 2002 race during the primary because our candidates beat each other up," Johnston said. He said the panel will also monitor the races for lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University, said Johnston's move, while well intentioned, will not work because candidates find negative ads to be effective campaign strategies.

"There is no way of stopping it because of the personal ambitions involved," Berry said. "Negative campaigns often work, not always, but often enough to be inviting."

Dukakis could not be reached for comment Friday. As the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, Dukakis was hit by negative ads from national Republicans, including one that used the case of Willie Horton, a Massachusetts inmate who escaped while on furlough and raped a woman and assaulted her husband. That ad has become a storied example of negative campaign techniques.

But in 1982, Dukakis, in a tough fight to regain the governor's office, ran several strongly negative ads against Governor Edward J. King, a Democrat, including one that claimed taxpayers were paying a "corruption tax" during King's term. Another Dukakis ad, which was quickly pulled, featured a man calling King a "son-of-a bleep."

Other major Massachusetts Democrats have also resorted to tough, negative ads. In 1994, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy turned back a strong challenge from Romney, in good part with a negative ad that linked him to his venture capital firm's downsizing of an Indiana paper company.

"Comparative ads on policy matters should be fair game," Johnston said. He cited as an example a hypothetical ad from one of Reilly's opponents pointing out their differences on rolling back the income tax to 5 percent.

"I don't have a problem with Chris Gabrieli airing an ad that disagrees with Reilly on the income tax cut. But personal attacks should be out of bounds," he said. "Or anything that would give the Republican nominee ammunition to damage our nominee in the fall campaign."

Berry said identifying a negative ad may not be that easy, let alone convincing candidates that their ads are negative attack ads.

"Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder," he said. "Candidates believe that they are just comparing their opponents records and showing the contrasts between them and their opponents. They don't regard that as negative. They think they are just telling the truth."

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