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    Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics


    Final Recording of the Nixon Tapes

    8:45 PM July 12, 1973


    Fala - Still the Most Famous Presidential Dog

    Almost every US President has had a pet, but FDR's Scotting Terrier, Fala, is far and away the most famous  dog to ever occupy the White House - MGM even made a movie about him:



    George Bush Also Rode in a Tank in '88

    "George Bush was in a tank three times during that campaign!"

                               - Michael Dukakis

    Former Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis pointed this out to me in an interview 5 years ago while explaining how the imfamous "tank ad" that the Bush campaign ran against him - but I'd never been able to find any images, until now.

    Here's an excerpt from our interview:

    ME: Tell me about the--the tank advertisement.

    DUKAKIS: It wasn’t an ad -- well, look; I was in a tank. George Bush was in a tank three times during that campaign! As I often say kidding these days, I’ve never thrown up all over the Japanese Prime Minister. I mean you know these things happen... But I didn’t lose because of the tanks; you know I lost because I didn’t run a very good final campaign.

    DUKAKIS: I let myself be defined by my opponent rather than doing the kind of job you have to do--first to blunt those kinds of attacks...

    DUKAKIS: If I had a nickel for everybody who has come up to me since 1988 and said you know you’re nothing like the guy we thought we were looking at in 1988--I’d be a millionaire.


    There's No Wrong Way to Vacation As President

    Gripes over presidential vacations have become a predictable side-effect of partisan politics. However, those bemoaning President Obama’s week-long Martha’s Vineyard respite may want to re-examine past presidential getaways.

    Criticisms usually sound something like this: it’s an expensive extravagance! It’s unnecessary! It shows an insensitivity to the millions of ordinary Americans struggling through a bad economy!

    But re-examine history: President Ronald Reagan retreated to Barbados for Easter in April of 1982 at a taxpayer cost of $3.5 million. The Caribbean getaway, hosted by Hollywood actress Claudette Colbert, had Reagan’s critics fuming. After all, unemployment was at 9.3%, a historic high, and the exotic destination wasn’t even in the U.S. In fact, Reagan had even rejected the advice of his staff, who feared the potentially bad optics and urged him not to go.

    The Gipper went anyway, and in the process he proved that there’s really no wrong way to vacation as President.*

    History doesn’t remember these little controversies. Thirty years later, the trip and the criticism is long forgotten–but we do have this unique record from Nightly News, as reported by NBC’s John Palmer:

    *This may not apply if you are a candidate for President.

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