Various observations while wondering what happened to Mike Dukakis


Another former Massachusetts governor ran for president some years ago and he too got his comeuppance on military and foreign policy, schooled by the elder George Bush.

Last night we saw Mitt Romney slammed harder than Bears QB Jay Cutler was at the hands of Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh — for those of you bouncing between MNF, the foreign policy debate and the seventh game of the St. Louis-San Francisco series.

Mitt Romney served up a puff-ball that he thought was a rising fastball when it left his lips. But it was more like a meatball from a Cards pitcher that Obama then smacked up the middle off Romney’s mitt for an RBI double. Hello World Series.

It sounded like Romney had President Obama in a corner, criticizing the Navy’s shrinkage on Obama’s watch. But the president deftly turned an aircraft carrier on a dime and launched a barrage at Mitt:

“You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?'” he said.

Romney never recovered, and probably took out his fury on the factoid collector who pitched him the ship count zinger.

There’s such a thing as a mini-crisis, something that pops up in your face when you least expect it. Only Obama’s inner circle knows whether the size of the Navy issue was a test question that prepared him for the counterattack he delivered, or whether the president improvised on the spot. It wasn’t a particularly smart rap for Romney to try to lay on the president. Obviously what worked in 1916 or 1942 or 1968 wouldn’t sail today.

Self-inflicted crises are the worst, and the hardest to spot in advance. The president sacked Mitt and it had to hurt. President wins, Bears win, Giants win.

Two weeks till Election Day.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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