These guys will say anything, won't they?
"This idea that's developed that we're going to run against Kerry like he is Mike Dukakis is a bunch of baloney," said [Matthew] Dowd, [Bush's chief campaign stategist]....
"Mike Dukakis was an outsider, and compared to John Kerry, Mike Dukakis is mainstream. Michael Dukakis was a governor who balanced a budget. I don't remember Michael Dukakis ever advocating defense cuts, and I don't remember Michael Dukakis ever advocating against cuts in taxes."
--New York Times
Here's the restrained, high-minded way Bush the Elder and his surrogates talked about the "mainstream" Michael Dukakis:
"It’s time to talk issues, to use the dreaded 'L' word. Liberal, liberal, liberal!"
--Ronald Reagan taunting Dukakis, 8/14/88
"The liberal governor of Massachusetts -- I love calling him that!"
--Bush campaigning in Albuquerque, 10/4/88
"He did not go to Canada, he did not burn his draft card and he damn sure didn't burn the American flag!"
--George Bush favorably contrasting Dan Quayle with Dukakis and his backers (and making a gutter-level allusion to an utterly unsupported rumor that Kitty Dukakis once burned an American flag), 8/22/88
"There's a lot of things we can refer to the man from Massachusetts as. We can call him 'Mr. Tax Increase.' ... We can call him 'Mr. Weak on National Defense.' But let me tell you something. Come November 8th, there's one thing we'll never call the governor of Massachusetts, and that is 'Mr. President.'"
--Dan Quayle, 9/17/88
"Want to hear a sad story about the Dukakis campaign? The governor of Massachusetts, he lost his top naval adviser last week. The rubber duck drowned in his bathtub."
--Dan Quayle, 9/13/88
(All quotes from Paul Slansky's 1989 book The Clothes Have No Emperor.)
Incidentally, the absurdity of the Dowd quote is acknowledged in the online version of the Times story: Dowd is said to be "offering a view of Mr. Dukakis that no doubt would have turned the head of Lee Atwater, the mastermind of George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign." This coment does not appear in my copy of the print Times, however -- which means that someone actually had to point this out to Times editors.