OTHER COMMENTARY / EXCERPTS : The Iceman Leaves Us Cold in This Age of Telepolitics

In Los Angeles, Michael S. Dukakis was simply pathetic in his weak attempt to wriggle off the hook he has impaled himself on by his lifetime in the liberal politics of Massachusetts. "Labels don't mean a thing," he said, plaintively--as though it is impossible to characterize accurately a long career with traditional political categories--such as "liberal" and "conservative."

"Let's stop labeling one another," he pleaded. Here is the story of politics in the late '80s: Bush covets the label "conservative." Dukakis is losing because he is liberal and the country isn't.

Tempted by the Lorelei of liberal righteousness, Dukakis twice made an issue of Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork. The second time he did something sleazy. He dragged Bork--against whose integrity no one has ever said a believable syllable of criticism--into his answer to a question on "sleaze." This smear did not please a single voter Dukakis did not already have and it reminded some tepid Bush supporters of why they are on Bush's side.

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