Kerry's no Dukakis

The Republicans have an unhealthy fixation on trying to transform John Kerry into another Michael Dukakis. Say what you want about the Democratic nominee, but I covered Michael Dukakis and Kerry’s no Dukakis. True, John K was lieutenant governor under the Duke for two years, but it’s not like they were clones. Kerry is a whole lot tougher than his ex-boss, and he has three Purple Hearts to prove he’s no ACLU, Willie Horton-coddling weakling.

The latest attempt to bring back negative public memories of the failed 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate came July 28, when the GOP’s self-styled rapid response team (or is it rabid response team?) released downloaded photos of Kerry wearing a goofy-looking anti-contamination outfit while touring NASA facilities at Cape Canaveral this week. Overjoyed Republican spinners couldn’t wait to use the photo to once again link Kerry and Dukakis. They declared that the Kerry photo was the 2004 equivalent of the most embarrassing campaign photo in American history: Dukakis wearing a military helmet while riding in a tank in 1988. If you remember that (in)famous photo op, Dukakis looked so ludicrous that many Americans concluded that they could not envision him as Commander-in-Chief.

But Kerry doesn’t look ludicrous in the photos taken by NASA. Silly perhaps, but it’s unlikely to convince a single voter to choose President Bush who wouldn’t have voted for him already. Yes, it’s good for a chuckle. Kerry and the others in the white suits look a lot like characters in the sperm scene from Woody Allen’s classic comedy, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex.”

The NASA episode isn’t going to help Kerry get elected. A campaign aide told me that it’s unlikely Kerry will be getting dressed in funny-looking suits any time soon. But Republican loyalists shouldn’t go overboard here.

How goofy is this deal? Decide for yourself.

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