|Dole and Bush with Nancy Kassebaum|
What Dole failed to realize -- perhaps deluded himself from realizing -- is that Bush didn't need to earn respect the same way he did: he had the money, the organization and the trappings of the vice presidency. While Elizabeth and Al Haig were nearly killed when a coil blew in their plane, Bush was still "flyin' around" on Air Force Two, with a crisp backup jet waiting on the runway . . . just in case. No one would be kicking open a cockpit full of smoke on his campaign team.
But the trappings of the vice presidency also became a trap. Bush had to get out of "the bubble" -- and give the people some of the see-me-feel-me-touch-me. So he ran around, tooling on forklifts, helping guys get their cars out of snowbanks . . . and Bob Dole watched in despair. These were things he could not do. If only he had been "whole." The loss that kept him devastated and hidden in Bina and Dorian's living room for so much time.
|Hunter, Beau, Ashley, Jill and Joe|
And in a few short sentences, we see what Joe Biden learned from it all, as he says what he fears are his last goodbyes with his kids, his wife, his friends and family. He tells them something he had learned fifteen years earlier, when he lost so much more than a presidential race. He tells them: you'll go on.
|Lee and Gary in New Hampshire|
Gephardt's killers warned their candidate that if he put even the daintiest hit on Michael's correctness, Dukakis would never forget or forgive. In Dick's flailing campaign, it would mean forgoing the vice presidency and heading back to the House to raise the money for the debt his campaign had amassed -- $100,000 on Dick and Jane's credit card alone. (What It Takes? American Express.) Gephardt openly laments that if they had told him he would have to raise $10 million to run for president, he wouldn't have done it.
|Gary against The World|
Gore was not the only one. The press was shoulder-to-shoulder against Gary Hart's return to politics and policy ideas, succinctly put by the Los Angeles Times: "Sit down, Gary. You have nothing to say. You have no place in public life in this country."
What may be the most telling paragraph in the book, Hart concedes:
I'm in a struggle to the death over who I am. And I feel my opponent is the press, who cannot allow me to define myself--they have a stake in this. They're all on record, and they can't bear to see me reemerge as a serious person in this country, because they went so far out and said such terrible things. They can't allow me to succeed.He drops out of the race days later.
1988 Like It's 2012
George Bush's campaign was geared toward the people he had been working on since his earliest days in Texas. They were all Democrats in the 1940s, when the schools, hospitals and electric lines came. But years of wealth and development in the '50s, and then the social changes in the '60s had turned them Republicans. These were "the got mines" that Joe Biden talked about. As Cramer writes, they now wanted the government to do . . . well, not much . . . save to stand tall for America, God bless her." And that's where Bush's Super Tuesday rhetoric came in: "I'll never apologize for her." Ahem.
Meanwhile Bush was doing six-minute events with six months of advance. While he was starving the political press corps to death, his handlers would find time for local TV "interviews" -- very necessarily in quotes. "It was just the VP and a single blow-dry in matching armchairs -- very intimate -- they could really get to know one another . . . you know, for four minutes and thirty seconds." Ahem.