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from The Living Room

The Bush/Quayle ad “Tank Ride” ad from 1988:

The inaccurate yet devastating ad “Tank Ride” not only helped guarantee Governor Michael Dukakis’s defeat, it also created a lasting impression. In the fall of 2008, the first three images of Dukakis returned from a Google Search of his name are from the unfortunate photo opportunity that was staged by the Dukakis campaign on September 13, 1988, to counter the impression that the Democratic candidate was weak on defense. While many of the claims made in the narration and scrolling text are erroneous or misleading, the image of Dukakis smiling, in an oversized helmet, did not have the intended effect. The ad was produced by Greg Stevens, whose company Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potholm created the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004. The Dukakis campaign directly countered “Tank Ride” with the ad “Counterpunch.” When the Dukakis response ad appeared on the news, cultural historian Kiku Adatto described it as “a quintessentially modernist image of artifice upon artifice: television news covering a Dukakis commercial containing a Bush commercial containing a Dukakis media event.” As modern as this spectacle may have been, the attack ad “Tank Ride” was an expression of an old trope; the notion that the Democratic candidate cannot be trusted as commander in chief.

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