The Election of 1988
Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead . . . but rather I will say: here in this world he changed his life.
-- Morte d'Arthur
Aquarter of a century ago, John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the American Camelot began to evanesce into the mists of a political Avalon. Three years earlier, in 1960, Michael Dukakis had been caught up in the enchantment of Kennedy's New Frontier; in 1988, he sought to call it back. He failed. The time for Camelot has passed, even for a candidate with more magic than Michael Dukakis possessed.
In 1988, the Democrats came back to the "Boston-Austin ticket" that had succeeded in 1960--a Massachusetts liberal with ethnic credentials paired with a moderate Texan. Electoral logic now works against a northeasterner at the head of such a ticket, however; in 1988, Democrats suspected (with reason) that they could have won with Bentsen as their presidential nominee. In 1960, the combination of Lyndon Johnson and traditional party loyalty was strong enough to enable Kennedy to carry most of the South. In 1988, Bentsen's presence on the ticket was insufficient to win even one southern state.
Race and economics have reduced Democrats to a minority of southern whites, an unreliable constituency, sufficient to win in coalition with black voters, but one that requires special culti-