Dopers who remember pre-Clinton elections

Has there been a candidate less self-aware than Romney? His gaffes, especially related his wealth making not a “regular Joe” despite his protests to the contrary, are amazing IMO.

I voted for Dukakis, but I think he was pretty clueless as to how dopey he let himself look.

He did look ridiculous in that tank!

I think George H.W. Bush did himself no favors in 1992 as being painted as out-of-touch. The supermarket scanner episode (where he is reputed to have been amazed by a bar code scanner) and the “vision thing” (which was a soundbite used to make him appear like he had no plan for his presidency) are both remarkable examples of ways in which a candidate is made to appear out of touch.

I think those examples are much more remarkable than anything Romney has done… except maybe the joking about him putting the dog on top of the car.

Jimmy Carter wore a cardigan sweater while encouraging us to turn our thermostats down. He looked like Mr. Rogers. George H.W. Bush never looked comfortable campaigning and Richard Nixon often looked actually hostile toward crowds. Hubert Humphrey talked too much and Lyndon Johnson – who was said to be quite dynamic in person – came off like a pious boob on television. Dan Quayle was a gaffe waiting to happen, except he never waited long.

At some point during a campaign, every candidate does something clueless, inept or just plain dumbass. We tend to remember it more if we don’t like the candidate, and even more if that candidate loses.

Don’t forget Ross Perot’s running mate, James Stockdale, coming across in a debate as elderly and confused (partially due to not having his hearing aid turned on!), pretty much sinking his opinion with the public.

Because he had his eardrums blow out on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

I voted for Perot because of Stockdale. During the vice-presidential debate he was able to answer questions concisely, and came of looking better, IMNSHO, than Gore or Quayle. Both of them were smarmy and you couldn’t pin down where they stood on issues.

To the question about abortion rights Gore and Quayle gave long winded answers. One was kinda for abortion rights, one was kinda against, but you could twist their words to suit you. Stockdale said(and this is his entire answer) “I believe that what a woman does with her body is her business, period.” When the moderator looked at him as if to say “That’s it?” Stockdale repeated “Period!”

Whew! I guess I pushed my button. But I admired Stockdale, because even if you didn’t agree with his opinion you knew where he stood. He wore a hearing aid because of injuries received while a POW in Vietnam. And if he looked uncomfortable standing for that long debate, it was because of leg injuries received in a prison camp. No matter what opinion anyone else had of him, a dude who wins the Medal of Honor will always rate high with me.

Stockdale wasn’t really inept, it was Perot that was inept.

Perot didn’t really have anyone in mind as his VP candidate, and Ross Perot and his wife had done a lot of work with Vietnam POW groups and because of that Stockdale and Perot knew each other personally. Stockdale agreed to be put on the ticket by Perot, but there was an understanding that Perot would replace Stockdale before any of the state ballots were finalized and before VP-debates. Stockdale agreed to the arrangement to do a favor for a guy he respected because of his work with POWs (as Stockdale was a former Vietnam POW himself.)

Perot, since he could never decide if he actually was serious about running for President or not, dropped out of the race in July. He had never got around to finding a replacement for Stockdale, and since he had declared his campaign ended there was no reason to look for one. Perot later (as everyone knows) decided to restart his campaign, and since he hadn’t actually found anyone to replace Stockdale he sort of had to keep him as it was at that point too late in the game to get anyone else on the state ballots. Of course, Perot never spoke with Stockdale to let him know any of this, until about a week before the first Vice Presidential debates in October. Stockdale basically gets told out of the blue “in half a week you have to debate Dan Quayle and Al Gore.”

Quayle and Gore had been prepared rigorously with mock debating by professional political handlers. Stockdale was caught flat footed and was not formally prepared by anyone.

Stockdale felt that most Americans didn’t know who he was or why he was running for the Vice Presidency, so he attempted to open up by asking the question “Who am I? Why am I here?” his attention wasn’t to sound lost and confused, but to set the stage for explaining exactly why he was on the ticket and why he felt it was the right thing to do and etc. Unfortunately the way he opened up, and the fact that he never really got back to making the full circle on his point, he was doomed to look like a senile old man. (In truth he was perfectly competent mentally at that point, albeit he was old.)

It’s a shame that is how people came to remember Stockdale. His Medal of Honor award was for his leadership of other POWs imprisoned with him in Vietnam, despite his active opposition to his captor resulting in horrific abuse and torture. At one point his captors wanted to parade him in front of a camera, and Stockdale refused to be used for propaganda. To prevent this he took a razor blade and repeatedly cut his scalp so that he would be too bloodied to be shown on camera (as the Vietnamese didn’t want to publicly show what they were doing to the POWs.) The Vietnamese decided to just make him wear a hat, in response to that he beat himself in the face with a stool until he was too swollen and bruised to be shown on camera.

There was Dan Quayle, who apprently thought he was making a good impression when most of America thought he looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Keep in mind that a politician’s public image is 95% media spin, not reality. Whatever the media chooses to focus on or play up will become that politician’s image even if the truth is far different.
For example, Snopes points out that Bush I was NOT confused or amazed by a grocery scanner.
Gerald Ford wasn’t really a klutz, but an accomplished athlete.
Another huge example of the media manipulating people’s perception of a political candidate was the “Dean scream” stuff that was spun around Howard Dean. I never intended to vote for Howard Dean, but it was SO obvious to me (despite not being a Dean fan) that the whole “controversy” created around that was manufactured by the media. The media singlehandedly sunk his campaign.
I’ve seen enough cases of this kind of stuff happening that I always take these attempts to create certain images of candidates with a grain of salt.

lavender-Ford was probably the BEST athlete to become Prez. Dean screamed to be heard over the crowd.

“Remember pre-Clinton elections”?

Oy vey.

The first election I have somewhat vague memories of is Nixon over McGovern in '72. I would have been 7 at the time. I voted for Reagan in '84.

OP, you stay off my lawn. And turn that music down, dammit.

My grandmother has the record, in my family, for Presidential elections. She’s voted in 21 of them. If she could have voted after the age of eighteen, as folks in the US do now, it would be 22 elections. She was born in December of 1904, so in 1924 she wasn’t old enough yet, as you had to be twenty-one to vote.

In 2008 I suspect her vote and mine canceled each other out, as she had a McCain/Palin sticker in her room at the nursing home.

She did vote for FDR though.

The attempt of any presidential candidate to paint himself as a “man of the people” who “understands the problems of the little guy” will always ring hollow. Presidential candidates aren’t like you or me. I think that pre-Clinton, we did expect those that lead us to be cut from a different cloth than Joe Shlabotnik who lives down the road and works at Home Depot. We made an aristocracy out of the Kennedys, for example, because we wanted our leaders to come from an equestrian class.

Not that many, many presidential candidates haven’t attempted to paint themselves as Joe’s smarter, older brother.

I was 10 in '88, have vague memories of the primaries and Conventions. (Did report on Ohio because the Ohio primary was happening)


First, commenting on Stockdale: he was horribly served by Perot’s decision to put him on the ballot, because he wasn’t a public speaker, a politician, or a policy wonk. He essentially stood there watching Gore and Quayle go at it, and when he did interject, despite comments above he didn’t always make sense. Shame on Perot for half-assing his handling and preparation of the VP, during what was otherwise really a clever campaign in some ways.

With respect to self-awareness, Nixon was actually sometimes too self-aware, to the point that his continuing doubts and private thoughts sometimes found their way into his comments.

Reagan maybe?

And “passionless.” Yeah Dukaka is your winner here.

And really Romney can do whatever he wants, he has about as much chance as McCain did of winning. Hell McCain had about as much integrity as any presidential candidate since Carter and got slaughtered. Obamessiah still rules the day, regardless of what he has/hasn’t done in 4 years.

My opinion of Nixon is that I hope someone remembered to drive a stake through his black heart before they screwed down the lid.