If Only I Had Bashed Houston, I'd Have Been President
Dukakis, the epitome of a wonkish Democrat with zero charisma, was handily defeated by George H.W. Bush, partly because of the heinous "Willie Horton" political ad, which blamed Dukakis for a convicted felon committing violent crimes while on a weekend release.
He's now reminiscing about the race, blaming himself entirely (and nobly) for the mistakes made.
And how should he have battled the Horton ad? By putting the spotlight on Houston.
"At least Willie Horton committed the offense that they were talking about. There was no falsity," he says. "Now, the fact that Houston, greater Houston, had six times the homicide rate of greater Boston and I let George Bush kind of take the crime issue away from me was my fault, nobody else's."
Of course, John Kerry and Al Gore tried to beat a Bush by bashing Houston (over air pollution, in their cases). You can see how far it got them.
The lesson should be clear: America loves Houston too much to see it criticized. Dukakis is lucky he didn't try it.
He might have won even less than the 10 states he did.
-- Richard Connelly