…by Anura Guruge
Michael Dukakis will be 79 in a few weeks; dob: Nov. 3, 1933. He still looks good. Hair is a bit thinner than when he ran for president. Very alert. Very articulate. Very avuncular. Very impressive. Makes you proud to be associated with the Democrats. Picture from “L.A. Time” (with thanks).
This was indeed serendipitous. I had no idea that Mike Dukakis, the Presidential Contender in 1998, and the longest serving Governor in Massachusetts history, was going to be in Laconia, NH, today. I was under the impression he had moved to Hawaii. [I asked him about that. I said: ‘I thought you had moved to Hawaii‘. He gave me the scoop. ‘I was just there for one semester. I came back after that.‘ So, I wasn’t totally off base. I had at least remembered that he had gone to Hawaii.]
After my two short stints making phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, the Obama office in Laconia had called up Friday wanting to know when I planned to show up over the weekend to go door-to-door. They never mentioned anything about Dukakis being there Sunday. It could have been a security thing. With our intent to go to the Sandwich Fair I wasn’t sure when I would make it to Laconia but promised I would put some hours in before Tuesday. This morning, with the weather looking good, I decided I will go and do my shift this afternoon, after I had gone for my run. So, as I was getting ready to go running, around noon, I called up the office to say I will be thee at 2pm. My contact there, Derek, said I should come at 1 instead, as Dukakis would be there to rally the troops. So a quick change of plan. Scrapped the run. Jumped in the shower instead. We managed to leave the house around 12:40. I grabbed two boxes of Lindt chocolate for the troops and Mr. Dukakis.
We got to the Obama office in Laconia by 1:15. It is a small office; 1/4 the size of the nice office we had in 2008. There wasn’t many people there to listen to the former governor. Maybe, at most, 25. But, that was OK. He was shorther than I expected. Deanna reckons that he must have been 5′ 6″. His fair was thinner. But, he looked good. Looked very good. He spoke quietly, without much animation, but it was heartfelt, easy to follow and clearly enunciated. It was a good speech. He spoke about the need for, and a person’s right to, good, affordable healthcare. He, like me, pointed out how so many people just don’t understand the healthcare issue. He, at 78, was on Medicare and got the older folks present to admit that it was a wonderful system. He pointed how Paul Ryan’s austerity program for the U.S. was aimed at making the U.S. be like Greece today. Hear. Hear. He highlighted how government austerity was not the right path for this country. He, obviously, knows Romney. He stressed how unpopular Romney is in Massachusetts; Romney expected to lose his home state to Obama by 30%. He stressed how well Massachusetts is now doing under Deval Patrick compared to when Romney was governor. He talked about how ‘Private Equity’ company à la Romney’s BAIN Capital had a fiduciary responsibility to make money for their shareholders as opposed to ensuring job growth or job security. It was a good, rousing speech to warm the cockles of any Democrat.
He cracked a few jokes, mainly about Bill Clinton’s meandering nomination speech at his 1988 DNC convention, contrasting it with Bill’s amazing performance this year. He wanted to know why Bill didn’t make such a speech in 1988. He also then had this. According to Mike, Bill Clinton was asked by a morning TV show, in 1992, as to why he was running for President, to have Bill respond: ‘So I can finish the Michael Dukakis nomination speech‘. That cracked me up. He took questions. I asked him about Jack Welch’s stupid, unbecoming Tweet on Friday accusing the administration of cooking the 7.8% unemployment number. Mr. Dukakis agreed that it was totally uncalled for and defied logical explanation.
We all got to meet with him and shake hands. He was very pleasant. Made a point of getting the names of the kids right. Teischan offered him a chocolate and he took one after asking her to recommend which one he picked. It was impressive. I am glad we made the effort to go see him. Made my day. Good for the kids. The most important person that they have met so far (though there grandfather might argue otherwise).
Inspired by Mr. Dukakis ‘we’ went and covered about 40 houses in Gilford; shades of 2008 for me, because I also did Gilford that time.