Dukakis Was a Model of What to Do the Day After You Lose a Presidential Race

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Twenty-four Novembers ago, on the Wednesday morning after Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis lost the presidential election to Vice President George H.W. Bush, Dukakis got out of bed at his usual time, got dressed, had a light breakfast, walked to the Green Line stop near his Brookline home, took a trolley to Park Street Station, walked up Beacon Hill to the State House, and went to work. 
There was state business to catch up on, and, Dukakis being Dukakis, he was not going to waste time in getting to it.   He was, and remains to this day, an extraordinarily disciplined man.  If he felt any regrets or self-pity on that dreary Wednesday, he showed no signs of it. 
Dukakis’s hope of winning the greatest prize in all of politics had been destroyed, but he was the same level-headed, good-natured guy the day after as he was the day before -- and as he was the day before he announced for president, for that matter. 
You don’t have to admire Dukakis, as I do, to appreciate his emotional balance, his perfectly symmetrical ego, and his fortitude in the face of defeat, of a public devastation. 
One day he’s in an armored limo, protected on all sides by the Secret Service; the next day, he’s in a crowded trolley, rubbing elbows with hospital orderlies, college students and office workers.  And you can’t tell from looking at his face that morning on the T which day it is in the many days of the public life of Mike Dukakis.
Earlier today, I read “What It Feels Like to Lose a Presidential Election,” an article in The Daily Beast, which was subtitled, “Someone will be unhappy on Wednesday. Presidential losers Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bob Dole on getting over the sting of second – and advice for this year’s runner up.” 
This got me thinking, what will another guy from Massachusetts do tomorrow morning if he loses today’s presidential election?
Mitt Romney has been permanently employed in the pursuit of the presidency for years, so if he loses, he will be unemployed.  No job to go to, no need to get up early tomorrow and get on the ball.  If he did have a job, however, you can be fairly certain he wouldn’t be using public transportation to get to it.
Since Romney headquarters tonight is the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston, he’ll most likely be sleeping tonight in the area.  My guess he'll stay at his place in Belmont. (Mitt is famously careful with a buck, so he won’t spring for a room at a hotel, especially that expensive Westin next to the convention center, even if he can charge it to his campaign committee.)
If Romney does lose tonight, and he does go home to Belmont, I would recommend that, like Dukakis, he do something totally routine tomorrow morning, like go down to Belmont center with his wife, Ann, have breakfast and take a walk around his town.  The former governor should smile and wave to the folks passing by, and he should have a warm word with everyone they bump into. 
Just be Mitt, a member of the crowd of successful, retired Belmont guys. 
“I never needed to go on a vacation or anything like that.  Just getting home and resuming a kind of basic routine and spending time with friends and family was for me always enough,” Dukakis told The Daily Beast.  “You think about it (losing) for a while, but after a while you get tired of it.  And I didn’t have a lot of time to sit around and think about it.”
In that same exchange with the “Beast,” Dukakis said, “If Romney loses, I honestly don’t know what he will do, since he has been running for so long and he doesn’t really have a regular job to go back to.  It probably takes a month or two to be back to normal.  Time is a great healer.  They (Romney and Obama) are both active.  They should just get back to their normal routine and rhythm.”

No comments:

Post a Comment