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The Seven Dwarfs of the 1988 Democratic Presidential Primary

Name Position in 1988 Position in 2009
Bruce Babbitt former governor of Arizona chairman of the board of the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S.
Joseph "Joe" Biden senator from Delaware vice president of the United States
Michael Dukakis governor of Massachusetts professor at Northeastern University
Richard "Dick" Gephardt representative from Missouri president and CEO of the Gephardt Group
Albert "Al" Gore, Jr. senator from Tennessee former vice president of the United States; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (2007)
Jesse Jackson, Sr. founder and president of Rainbow/PUSH civil rights activist and minister
Paul Simon senator from Illinois

deceased

How It's Used

"So here we are, almost 600 days out of the starting gate and still 303 days to the big finish line in November. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the world's longest-running variety show and nightclub act. Settle back and enjoy yourselves; we've got things you have to see to believe.

"We've got bimbos. We've got six or seven Dwarfs and a pair of preachers. We've got Monkey Business and we've got The Wimp. We've shown you a man who does knockout impersonations. We've got The Return of Voodoo Economics and Rainbow Coalition II. You want sex? We've got it and more money than you'll ever see. We've got beauty contests and Super Tuesday. And anytime you get bored, we'll jump in the bushes and do a stakeout."

—William F. Woo, "A Reflection," The St. Louis Dispatch, January 10, 1988.

Scott Bushnell, a production spokesperson, "...says actor Michael Murphy (The Year of Living Dangerously, Salvador) plays the candidate - and Murphy already has made a campaign appearance at the New Hampshire Mall, speaking from the same podium Gary Hart used.

"[Robert] Altman [the director] is even using G. David Hughes, a University of North Carolina professor, to set up real focus groups to test the imaginary candidate's appeal.

"Media critic Edwin Diamond says the satirical candidate 'really does stick it to the Democrats. It's the final blow to the Seven Dwarfs. It's Max Headroom revisited ... a composite, computer candidate.'"

—Gregory Katz, "'Doonesbury' Throws Ringer Into Race," USA Today, January 12, 1988.

"It was the same style of debate that earned the Democratic candidates the title of the 'seven dwarfs.'

"The pejorative tag for the Democrats was as unfair earlier as it is now for the Republicans. The difference is that earlier only the Democrats were debating; now the Republican candidates have joined the public exchange, which at times looks mean and petty."

—Robert Healy, "Voters Are Getting a Fresh Exchange of Ideas," The Boston Globe, January 20, 1988.

"So far, the Republican candidates have had a singular advantage over their Democratic counterparts: on television, they look more Presidential; they go one up over the Democrats in being magisterial. This may have nothing to do with issues, although it may have a lot to do with appearance. No one has compared the Republicans to the Seven Dwarfs or said they looked like a car pool."

—John Corry, "In the Debates, Appearance Conquers Substance," The New York Times, January 24, 1988.

"Meanwhile, the Democratic road show called the Seven Dwarfs wandered around the country, trying to get people's attention. First this one and that one caught the media's eye, but none of them really caught fire. Pamela Fine, political editor at the Atlanta Constitution, sent reporters to four precincts in Georgia this month to find out what voters thought of the candidates. 'The majority couldn't identify more than three or four,' she said."

—Thomas Collins, "In '88 Race, Even Media Running in Circles," Newsday, January 31, 1988.

Links

Related on eAlmanac
The Seven Dwarfs of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)

Beyond eAlmanac
Wikipedia article on the 1988 Democratic Presidential Primary

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