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Trans community activist Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, age 42, was brutally murdered by her husband in their new home in January 2018. He confessed and was convicted, but her family and friends are still left wondering WHY?

**While it may seem obvious that a write-up about a homicide case will contain violent and disturbing details, I am putting this extra special content/trigger warning here. This is a homicide that definitely qualifies as an ‘overkill’, and is describing violence against someone from a targeted minority group (trans/intersex). There are also mentions of transphobic comments and actions by individuals other than the perpetrator of the crime itself.**
I first met Christa in the hours following another Trans friend’s suicide, January 5th, 2008. She was the last person to see him alive, and I was cleaning up his apartment so his widow did not have to do that. Christa stopped by to see his widow, and that is when we met. I recognized her from activities in the local LGBT community as the organizer of the Miss Trans New England beauty pageant, which a few of my friends had participated in. It was exactly ten years almost to the day that Christa was murdered by her husband, Mark.
In the early morning hours of January 4th, 2018, Christa and Mark were trying to sleep on an air mattress in their living room downstairs from their bedroom, because the temperature in the bedroom was uncomfortable. They had been living in and working on renovating their new home in a residential neighborhood in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, trying to create the kind of life Christa had always wanted. They loved Halloween, and had gotten into a fun competition with neighbors with Halloween yard decorations. Christa’s birthday was December 4th, and she posted a picture of her cake, and then her feed turns to decorating for Christmas along with more photos of home improvements. On December 10th, she shared a photo of a holiday wreath she made with white poinsettias and butterflies in it, hanging on the living room wall around a wooden sign reading “All you need is LOVE.” Less than one month later, while struggling to try to get some sleep in that same living room, Mark made the decision to get up and grab a hammer and started hitting Christa in the head with it repeatedly. He said he was tired of being “belittled” and indicated they had argued over the air mattress. So, he hit her with the hammer in the head more than twenty-five times. It was clear that his goal was murder, because in his own words, “She wouldn’t die.” He kept striking her but she was still conscious, so he went to the kitchen and got a butcher knife. Her last words were, “Baby, what are you doing?” She died when he stabbed her in the back with the knife, puncturing her lung. Loss of blood was her official cause of death.
After killing Christa, Mark went upstairs and took a shower, and then went to the liquor store for some alcohol. When he returned to their house, he wrapped her body up in some sheets and a tarp with rope and dragged her down to the basement. He attempted to do some cleanup, as they found some bloody paper towels and sponges in the trash. Then he walked himself into the police station and announced that he should be arrested because he had done something “very bad”. Following a detailed confession, he was charged with first degree murder. He then entered a not guilty plea with the courts.
I heard about Christa’s death while I was in the middle of recording a memorial song I had written to honor a decade passing since our mutual friend’s suicide. Details of the crime were something her friends did not have right away. I think we wanted them and also didn’t want them. When the details came, it was really a lot to comprehend. This was the post I made that day, when I found the article that linked to the official documents with the details of the confession:
“This article has the most detail of any so far. TOO MUCH detail. Don't read it if you are not totally sure you are prepared. I had to cry and take a nap and had nightmares after reading it. I almost don't want to share it, but I know more and more will come out throughout the case, and it feels important to hold this space so she won't have to keep being alone in those final horrific moments. I don't know, I say the wrong things and grieve in weird and probably unhealthy ways. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years. Our spotty path-crossings were starkly marked by extremely intense shared experiences. She was very good to a couple of folks dear to my heart who are also gone. And to several who are still here, still breathing, still fighting, still loving. Take care of each other.”
The local trans community gathered to hold a memorial service for her in Northampton, MA, which was where the Miss Trans New England pageant had been held. The service was standing room only, and had to be livestreamed because there were so many community activists who were unable to attend but who needed to share in the grieving process with the community. It is always shocking when someone is killed, but this was particularly disturbing because of her seeming to have a pretty healthy marriage. She had posted about them having some problems occasionally, and then would post that they were working it out. I think people in the community were just shocked into the reality that it really could be any one of us next.
According to Christa’s close friend Er. A. Vickie Boisseau CPS, the New England Director of Intersex Campaign for Equality IC4E (who also happens to have been the officiant for Christa and Mark’s wedding), says, “Nowhere is it mentioned that she was intersex. She was born with XXY Klinefelter syndrome.” Vickie describes Christa as “naturally feminine” in her physical body as well as voice. She told me that Christa was born intersex but AFAB (assigned female at birth), however she was raised as a boy, and then transitioned to female at age 18. Vickie is a long time activist and educator in the intersex community, and has been consulting with the Trans Doe Task Force. We have talked about what would happen if one of our Doe cases turned out to be someone in the approximately 2% of the population who has some kind of intersex variation. When Vickie and I went to the sentencing, we had the opportunity to discuss some of this in relation to Christa afterwards. We talked about how if Mark hadn’t put her in the basement and turned himself in, but instead had dumped her body somewhere and tried to get away with it, what scenarios could have happened if her remains were found? Would she have been able to be identified? It sounds macabre to think about your friend in such a way, but when you do this kind of human identification work every day, these are the questions you begin to ask. What can we learn from Christa that could help our Doe cases?
If Christa’s remains were found skeletonized, anthropologists would have a very difficult time making a sex estimation for her as an unidentified decedent. They might have checked the male check box on their forms, and then not match with a missing person report if she was reported as a missing female. Or, vice versa. She might have been found right away and recognized as somehow gender-variant and had her case stuck at the bottom of the pile because of whoever handled that case deciding to deprioritize it, because that happens sometimes. Christa’s homicide and these ensuing questions were a large part of the idea behind the formation of the Trans Doe Task Force. Knowing that she was both Trans and intersex, and being married to someone who is also both of those things, and working in the field of human identification via Forensic Genetic Genealogy, I wondered if we could find people who weren’t identified because their cases were treated with either implicit or observer bias, and mishandled in some way that caused them to go unidentified. After only two years of looking for these cases, we have found over a hundred.
Arguments that people felt the need to have on social media surrounding media coverage of the crime left family and friends with further pain. Primarily, there was the repeated question, “Does it matter if she was Trans?” even while some articles were going out of their way to deadname her in their narratives of her life. Some hateful commenters took the opportunity to leave stinging comments: “They were married so obviously it wasn’t a hate crime so shouldn’t it just be stated like “‘guy killed his wife’ instead of ‘trans wife’ if transgenders want to be treated like regular people?” And, “If he didn’t kill her for being trans, then why does it matter if she was trans or not?” “Obviously he wasn’t transphobic if he married her.” And finally, “Trans people are just trying to use her to look more like victims. SEE? They’re already excitedly reporting counting her as the first trans victim of 2018.”
Here is the only answer to these and similar questions/musings: It absolutely does matter that Christa was Trans, because of the well-documented increased incidence of intimate partner violence against Trans people and the trend toward overkill/extreme violence specifically of Trans women to the point of it being a mutilation, as we saw with Pillar Point Doe. The statistic is tragic: ‘According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 54% of people experienced some form of partner abuse.’ (The Network/La Red)
The unresolved part of this crime is WHY did this happen? Not what made him ‘snap’, because that line of questioning often leads to victim blaming. But rather, why does this happen to Trans women so disproportionately and with such excessive violence? While we know who did it, we have the sequence of events, and we have a conviction and he’s serving a sentence, people who knew Christa are still left wondering and hurting. The truth of what happened is something that is really too much for most people to face, and that is this phenomenon of the overkill of Trans women, of the unrelenting violent targeting of trans women for unfathomable kinds of violence. If you just look at the circumstances of the deaths of the Trans women on the Transgender Day of Remembrance list from any year, you will understand what I am talking about.
I posted on the day of Mark’s sentencing: “Home from court. He plead guilty to Murder in the second degree, and was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole in 25 years (likely minus the two already served) which is less years than the number of times he struck her. Nevertheless, this is a good outcome for her family and friends, as a lengthy trial would have added unnecessary pain, and he is unlikely to get paroled even after that time. He is being treated for depression and psychosis while incarcerated, he told the judge. He did not make a statement, other than to answer the judge’s questions. Her family did have a statement that was read, and I hope he was listening. He did not turn his head to look at anyone, and I did not observe any outward expression of emotion from where I was seated. He maintains that he snapped. The public defender described a psych evaluation from a previous incarceration when he was a young man in the 90s that involved the doc predicting that he would eventually do something like this. I’m not sure why that was brought up since his mental fitness was not legally in question, but maybe it was entered so it will be read at any future parole hearing. Love from Massachusetts to all of you who loved Christa.”
I’m going to repeat that: Mark will serve fewer years in prison than the number of times he struck his wife’s skull with a hammer.
And this is still far closer to justice than anything most families of murdered trans people will ever see. That is not okay.
Eight states have outlawed the Trans Panic defense and Massachusetts is not one of them. Given that it’s repeatedly noted in reports that Mark said he “snapped” it is possible that his defense team may have been angling to leverage this type of defense despite the fact that he was married to his victim. One way that the trans panic defense can be colored is by combining it with citing previous mental health issues.
A long time was spent at the sentencing talking about Mark’s mental health, though his mental health wasn’t being called into question - so that leads me to believe that it will be a focus of his future parole hearings. It can also be that they went over it because it was mentioned as part of the intended defense before the plea agreement was reached. I don’t know because I have not seen all of the court filings on this case. But it is not outside the realm of possibility that they could have been preparing to riff on the Trans Panic defense in combination with his mental health diagnoses to claim he could not be held accountable. “Despite these grim statistics, there is hope. As of July 1, 2019, eight states have passed legislative bans on the use of gay/trans panic as a legal defense: California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, and New York. 6 It must be noted that gay/trans panic is not an affirmative legal defense; it is a tactic to strengthen the defense by playing on prejudice. It has, however, been used to not only explain a defendant’s actions, but to excuse them as well.” - American Bar Association
A couple of days after we met at the sentencing, after returning to his home state, Christa’s father contacted me. He had read my post and wanted to ask me to help him write about what happened to his daughter.
Mr. Steele would like people to know that Christa is loved by her family and especially by him, even though it took him a long time to accept her for who she was. He blames himself quite a bit for her hardships in life, and his pain about having disowned her when she was younger when she transitioned to female is extremely evident. “I might have been able to have saved her life if I would have only understood how things were. I could have helped her so she didn’t have to do some of the things she did. I will always hold myself partially responsible for her death, and believe me, that’s a hard thing to deal with and I don’t want another parent to feel this.” I told him that even with full parent support, these terrible things can still happen. He said, “I know that but it doesn’t help. I want everyone to know- don’t make my mistake.” They had become estranged when Christa left home to transition as a young adult, which at the time was a decision her father did not support due to his lack of education on transgender and intersex individuals before becoming a parent of one. She subsequently spent many years struggling with issues relating to substance use and stable housing.
As a parent of a Trans person, it is natural to want to protect them from a world you fear will not accept them, or is likely to treat them violently. It is often misdirected by parents into efforts to prevent or discourage their child from transitioning, rather than decrease their personal risk by affirming their identities. Mr. Steele stated, “It’s horrible to think about if she goes out with someone and they find out she’s trans and get pissed and beat her or kill her. It’s always on your mind, more than like with my other daughter. I always thought one day I would get a call and they would say your daughter was murdered, but I didn’t expect it to be her husband.”
Christa and her Dad reconnected a few years prior to her death, and he recalled their sometimes nightly phone calls in his heartbreaking victim statement he made at the sentencing. Mr. Steele told me, “I could call her any time of the night and she would always answer and we would talk for hours. And I really do miss that. She was the only one I had that way.” He also says, “Parents, don’t do what I did. Love your kids endlessly.”
submitted by LeeBRedgrave to UnresolvedMysteries


/r/neoliberal elects the American Presidents - Part 49, Bush v Dukakis in 1988

Previous editions:
(All strawpoll results counted as of the next post made)
Part 1, Adams v Jefferson in 1796 - Adams wins with 68% of the vote
Part 2, Adams v Jefferson in 1800 - Jefferson wins with 58% of the vote
Part 3, Jefferson v Pinckney in 1804 - Jefferson wins with 57% of the vote
Part 4, Madison v Pinckney (with George Clinton protest) in 1808 - Pinckney wins with 45% of the vote
Part 5, Madison v (DeWitt) Clinton in 1812 - Clinton wins with 80% of the vote
Part 6, Monroe v King in 1816 - Monroe wins with 51% of the vote
Part 7, Monroe and an Era of Meta Feelings in 1820 - Monroe wins with 100% of the vote
Part 8, Democratic-Republican Thunderdome in 1824 - Adams wins with 55% of the vote
Part 9, Adams v Jackson in 1828 - Adams wins with 94% of the vote
Part 10, Jackson v Clay (v Wirt) in 1832 - Clay wins with 53% of the vote
Part 11, Van Buren v The Whigs in 1836 - Whigs win with 87% of the vote, Webster elected
Part 12, Van Buren v Harrison in 1840 - Harrison wins with 90% of the vote
Part 13, Polk v Clay in 1844 - Polk wins with 59% of the vote
Part 14, Taylor v Cass in 1848 - Taylor wins with 44% of the vote (see special rules)
Part 15, Pierce v Scott in 1852 - Scott wins with 78% of the vote
Part 16, Buchanan v Frémont v Fillmore in 1856 - Frémont wins with 95% of the vote
Part 17, Peculiar Thunderdome in 1860 - Lincoln wins with 90% of the vote.
Part 18, Lincoln v McClellan in 1864 - Lincoln wins with 97% of the vote.
Part 19, Grant v Seymour in 1868 - Grant wins with 97% of the vote.
Part 20, Grant v Greeley in 1872 - Grant wins with 96% of the vote.
Part 21, Hayes v Tilden in 1876 - Hayes wins with 87% of the vote.
Part 22, Garfield v Hancock in 1880 - Garfield wins with 67% of the vote.
Part 23, Cleveland v Blaine in 1884 - Cleveland wins with 53% of the vote.
Part 24, Cleveland v Harrison in 1888 - Harrison wins with 64% of the vote.
Part 25, Cleveland v Harrison v Weaver in 1892 - Harrison wins with 57% of the vote
Part 26, McKinley v Bryan in 1896 - McKinley wins with 71% of the vote
Part 27, McKinley v Bryan in 1900 - Bryan wins with 55% of the vote
Part 28, Roosevelt v Parker in 1904 - Roosevelt wins with 71% of the vote
Part 29, Taft v Bryan in 1908 - Taft wins with 64% of the vote
Part 30, Taft v Wilson v Roosevelt in 1912 - Roosevelt wins with 81% of the vote
Part 31, Wilson v Hughes in 1916 - Hughes wins with 62% of the vote
Part 32, Harding v Cox in 1920 - Cox wins with 68% of the vote
Part 33, Coolidge v Davis v La Follette in 1924 - Davis wins with 47% of the vote
Part 34, Hoover v Smith in 1928 - Hoover wins with 50.2% of the vote
Part 35, Hoover v Roosevelt in 1932 - Roosevelt wins with 85% of the vote
Part 36, Landon v Roosevelt in 1936 - Roosevelt wins with 75% of the vote
Part 37, Willkie v Roosevelt in 1940 - Roosevelt wins with 56% of the vote
Part 38, Dewey v Roosevelt in 1944 - Dewey wins with 50.2% of the vote
Part 39, Dewey v Truman in 1948 - Truman wins with 65% of the vote
Part 40, Eisenhower v Stevenson in 1952 - Eisenhower wins with 69% of the vote
Part 41, Eisenhower v Stevenson in 1956 - Eisenhower wins with 60% of the vote
Part 42, Kennedy v Nixon in 1960 - Kennedy wins with 63% of the vote
Part 43, Johnson v Goldwater in 1964 - Johnson wins with 87% of the vote
Part 44, Nixon v Humphrey in 1968 - Humphrey wins with 60% of the vote
Part 45, Nixon v McGovern in 1972 - Nixon wins with 56% of the vote
Part 46, Carter v Ford in 1976 - Carter wins with 71% of the vote
Part 47 - Carter v Reagan v Anderson in 1980 - Carter wins with 44% of the vote
Part 48, Reagan v Mondale in 1984 - Mondale wins with 55% of the vote
Welcome back to the forty-ninth edition of /neoliberal elects the American presidents!
This will be a fairly consistent weekly thing - every week, a new election, until we run out.
I highly encourage you - at least in terms of the vote you cast - to try to think from the perspective of the year the election was held, without knowing the future or how the next administration would go. I'm not going to be trying to enforce that, but feel free to remind fellow commenters of this distinction.
If you're really feeling hardcore, feel free to even speak in the present tense as if the election is truly upcoming!
Whether third and fourth candidates are considered "major" enough to include in the strawpoll will be largely at my discretion and depend on things like whether they were actually intending to run for President, and whether they wound up actually pulling in a meaningful amount of the popular vote and even electoral votes. I may also invoke special rules in how the results will be interpreted in certain elections to better approximate historical reality.
While I will always give some brief background info to spur the discussion, please don't hesitate to bring your own research and knowledge into the mix! There's no way I'll cover everything!
George Bush v Michael Dukakis, 1988
  • George Bush is the 64-year-old Republican candidate and the current Vice President. His running mate is US Senator from Indiana Dan Quayle.
  • Michael Dukakis is the 55-year-old Democratic candidate and the Governor of Massachusetts. His running mate is US Senator from Texas Lloyd Bentsen.
Issues and Background
  • Two years ago, a Lebanese magazine exposed an arrangement in which the United States appeared to attempt to trade arms for hostages with the current Iranian regime, despite the current arms embargo on Iran. Within a month, it further became clear that profits from these weapons sales were made available to assist the Contras in Nicaragua, assistance that had been prohibited by Congress. President Reagan tasked a commission with investigating the matter, which confirmed the allegations. Days after the report was released, President Reagan spoke to the American people, saying:
    A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages. This runs counter to my own beliefs, to administration policy, and to the original strategy we had in mind.
    • Vice President Bush has repeatedly characterized himself as out of the loop, saying, "I've said all along I didn't know about the diversion of funds." He does admit being aware of the arms sales generally. He has also said that the President should not be "precluded from soliciting" aid for groups like the Contras from private or foreign actors. Early this year, Bush had a combative interview with Dan Rather on the subject, when Bush took issue with the segment on the Iran-Contra affair that aired before the interview, saying it impugned his integrity. Asked by Rather how he could sign on to such a policy, Bush said:
      I'll tell you how I could. The same reason the president signed on to it. When a CIA agent is being tortured to death, maybe you err a bit on the side of human life. But everybody's admitted mistakes. I've admitted mistakes. And you want to dwell on them. And I want to talk about the values we believe in, and the experience and the integrity that goes with all of this. And what I'm going to do about education. There's nothing new here. I thought this was a news program.
    • Dukakis has questioned Bush's characterization of himself as out of the loop, saying in one news conference:
      Mr. Bush, you sat through five meetings on this subject. How can you say now that you did not know this was a straight arms-for-hostages deal?
  • As Governor, Dukakis was a strong supporter of a state inmate furlough program which had started before his time as Governor. After the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation banning those convicted of first-degree murder from such furloughs, Dukakis vetoed the bill, arguing it would defeat the rehabilitative purpose of such furloughs.
    • Bush and his allies have highlighted the case of William Horton, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole for killing a 17-year-old gas station attendant during a robbery. Horton was released on a weekend furlough program but never returned to prison. Almost a year later, Horton was convicted of raping a woman after assaulting and restraining her fiancé. He was sentenced again to life in prison in Maryland by a judge who refused to return Horton to Massachusetts on the chance that he could be released again.
    • Dukakis and his allies have pointed out that 45 states as well as the federal prison system allow some kind of furloughs, and at least 16 states offer furloughs to some first-degree murderers. Dukakis has recently signed legislation in opposition to his earlier veto, now banning furloughs for first-degree murderers. Bush has accurately pointed out that before this legislation, while Massachusetts was not the only state granting furloughs to first-degree murderers (as he had at one point incorrectly claimed) it was the only state granting them to inmates sentenced to life without parole. The Dukakis campaign has further argued that the Massachusetts furlough-escape rate is below the national average, and they have also pointed out Massachusetts' recently falling crime rates.
    • Further, Democrats have run their own "halfway house" ad in response, attacking Bush for helping create and obtain funding for a halfway house for paroled and early-release felons, one of whom went on to be convicted of rape and murder. Democrats point out that Bush continued to praise the halfway house and similar programs a year after the murder.
    • Lloyd Bentsen, Jesse Jackson, and others have argued that the advertisements run by the Bush campaign and other independent groups on the furlough program have racial undertones. Bush has rejected this argument, saying, "there isn't any racism ... It's absolutely ridiculous and everybody sees this as some desperation kind of move." Bush has further asked whether this means that Democrats' halfway house ad is racism against Hispanics.
  • This year, evidence emerged that the CIA made large payments to de facto leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega. Bush has said he didn't know about Noriega's involvement with illegal drug trafficking until early this year when Noriega was indicted in Florida. Information about Noriega's connections has appeared in some intelligence briefing materials since 1983, but it is unclear whether or not Bush came into contact with this particular material. Bush has further said that "it is our administration that is trying to bring this man to justice, once we found out he had gone bad." Dukakis has regularly attacked Bush on the subject of Noriega, having said, "you can't be serious about waging a real war against drugs when you have an administration that can't say no to Noriega."
  • Bush made a bold pledge in his nomination acceptance speech, saying:
    And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort or a third resort. When a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent won't rule out raising taxes, but I will, and the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no, and they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say to them, "Read my lips: no new taxes."
    Dukakis argues that this pledge is not credible, as the Reagan Administration has already approved of some tax increases over the past couple years. He has also expressed concerns about the implications for the national debt, saying:
    Now if we continue with these policies, this trillion and a half dollars worth of new debt that’s already been added on the backs of the American taxpayer is going to increase even more, and if we continue with this for another four years, then I’m worried about the next generation, whether we can ever turn this situation around.
  • Boston Harbor has been called by Bush and many others "the dirtiest harbor in America." At one point, Dukakis had fought for a waiver from the Clean Water Act. The Bush campaign has used Boston Harbor to attack Dukakis' environmental record as Massachusetts Governor, with Bush saying in a campaign stop at the harbor itself:
    While Michael Dukakis delayed, the harbor got dirtier and dirtier. Half a billion gallons of barely treated sewage a day into the harbor; 70 tons of sewage sludge per day into the harbor; PCBs into the harbor; trace metals into the harbor...
    The Dukakis campaign argues that this has been a long-time issue and that while many Massachusetts governors have "turned their back" on Boston Harbor, Dukakis is the one who has actually tried to do something about it. It is true that Dukakis has now presided over the start of a massive construction project designed to stop the dumping of sewage and sludge in the harbor, but some environmental activists argue this is only because of lawsuits that have been filed in state and federal courts.
  • The death penalty has come up in both the debates and campaign advertisements. Bush believes that some crime are "'so heinous, so brutal and so outrageous'' that execution is necessary, while Dukakis argues it is ineffective in reducing violent crime. Significant controversy surrounded both Bernard Shaw's question and Dukakis' answer on a question about the death penalty in the second debate, with Kitty Dukakis calling the question "theater and inappropriate." See the excerpts from the second debate for the question and answer.
  • In his nomination acceptance speech, Vice President Bush made an issue of Dukakis' veto as Governor of a bill that would have required teachers (by penalty of a fine) to lead schoolchildren in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, with Bush asking, "what is it about the Pledge of Allegiance that upsets him so much?" Dukakis says he supports the Pledge of Allegiance but believes the bill was unconstitutional.
  • In September, the Dukakis campaign set up a campaign stop in Michigan including a photo op in which Dukakis would ride in a tank. Here is one of the photos. The Bush campaign has used the footage and photos in their ads.
  • Very recently in October, Dukakis' deputy field field director Donna Brazile told a group of reporters that Bush needed to "fess up" about an alleged (and unsubstantiated) extramarital affair with an assistant, further saying, "the American people have every right to know if Barbara Bush will share that bed with him in the White House." Shortly after, the Dukakis campaign disavowed her comments and fired her.
  • While not always going into specifics, the Dukakis campaign has attacked the Republican VP nominee Dan Quayle as inexperienced and incompetent. Bush has continually articulated confidence in his running mate. Quayle has also been attacked following revelations that a family connection helped get him into the National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War, and that he gained admission to law school through an affirmative action "second chance" program primarily intended for minorities and the economically disadvantaged. The Bush campaign points out that in both cases, Quayle technically did not break any rules.
  • Despite having once been considered a moderate on the issue, Bush himself admits to an "evolution" on the issue of abortion and has generally maintained something closer to the more restrictive stance that President Reagan has held. Bush supports a constitutional amendment that would ban most abortions, but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Dukakis is pro-choice.
  • Dukakis has gone hard against Bush and Quayle on the issue of trade, particularly with Japan. Dukakis has called for "economic patriotism," has criticized Bush for calling economic relations with Japan "superb," and has mocked Dan Quayle for saying that foreign investment produces American jobs. On the Reagan Administration's trade policies, Dukakis has said:
    They ignored the unfair practices of our trade rivals. Their reckless fiscal policies drove up the value of the dollar, pricing our exports out of foreign markets and flooding America with cheap imports.
    Further, Dukakis has said:
    In the first four years of the Dukakis-Bentsen administration, we'll turn that trade deficit back into a trade surplus, and reclaim those jobs for American workers.
    Dukakis says this will be accomplished by opening foreign markets to American goods through a doctrine of reciprocity as "a cornerstone of trade policy" as well as by investing in education, training, research and development. Bush has criticized Dukakis' trade policy as protectionism in disguise. Bush aides have indicated that Bush will continue the trade policies that characterized the last few years of the Reagan Administration, with an added emphasis on job training.
Debate Excerpts
Quotations in excerpt titles refer to moderator's prompt, block quotations are from named candidate(s).
First Presidential Debate (full transcript)
(1) Bush on what it is about "these times that drives or draws so many Americans to use drugs":
I think we’ve seen a deterioration of values. I think for a while as a nation we condoned those things we should have condemned. For a while, as I recall, it even seems to me that there was talk of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs, and I think that’s all wrong ... We have to change this whole culture. You know, I saw a movie – “Crocodile Dundee.” And I saw the cocaine scene treated with humor, as though this was a humorous little incident. And it’s bad. Everybody ought to be in this thing. Entertainment industry, people involved in the schools, education.
(2) Dukakis on programs that he is "willing to cut to bring that deficit down":
I’ve suggested that there are certain weapons systems which we don’t need and we can’t afford ... Secondly, we’ve got to invest in economic growth in this country ... And, finally, we’ve got to go out there and collect billions and billions of dollars in taxes owed that aren’t being paid to this country ... The thing I don’t understand about Mr. Bush’s approach to this is how he could possibly be serious about bringing that deficit down given what he says he wants to do. He seems to want to spend a great deal of money on just about every weapon system; he says he’s against new taxes, although he’s broken that pledge at least times in the last year that I know of; he wants to give the wealthiest taxpayers in this country a five year, $40 billion tax break. He also wants to spend a lot of money on additional programs. If he keeps this up, he’s going to be the Joe Isuzu of American politics.
(BUSH in rebuttal): Is this the time to unleash our one-liners? That answer was about as clear as Boston harbor.
(3) Bush on his pledge "not to raise taxes of any kind" and whether he is concerned about the deficit:
...we’ve got to get the Democrats – Congress under control. They do all the spending, they appropriate every dime and tell us how to spend every dime. I’d like to ask the Governor to join in getting for the president what 43 governors have, the line-item veto. He has to operate in Massachusetts under a balanced budget proviso. I would like a balanced budget amendment.
(4) Dukakis on the "theme that keeps coming up about the way you govern is passionless, technocratic":
Peter, I care deeply about people, all people, working people, working families, people all over this country who in some cases are living from paycheck to paycheck, in other cases are having a hard time opening up the door of college opportunity to their children, in other cases, don't have basic health insurance which for most of us we accept as a matter of course and assume we're going to have in order to pay the bills that we incur when we get sick. I'm somebody who believes deeply in genuine opportunity for every single citizen in this country and that's the kind of passion I brought to my state.
(5) Bush on whether he is attempting to "brand" Dukakis by repeatedly emphasizing Dukakis' self-description as a "card-carrying" member of the ACLU:
But I don't agree with a lot of the - most of the positions of the ACLU ... I don't want my 10-year-old grandchild to go into an X-rated movie. I like those ratings systems. I don't think they're right to try to take the tax exemption away from the Catholic Church. I don't want to see the kiddie pornographic laws repealed. I don't want to see under God come out from our currency. Now, these are all positions of the ACLU, and I don't agree with them.
He has every right to exercise his passion, as what he said, a strong progressive liberal. I don't agree with that. I come from a very different point of view, and I think I'm more in touch with the mainstream of America.
(6) Dukakis on what he will do in a situation in which Americans are taken hostage:
But if there's one thing we also understand, it is that you cannot make concessions to terrorists - ever - because if you do it's an open invitation to other terrorists to take hostages and to blackmail us.
And that's the tragedy of the Iran-contra scandal. As a matter of fact, Mr. Bush was the chairman of a task force on international terrorism which issued a report shortly before that decision was made, and said, and rightly so, that we never, ever, can make concessions to terrorists and hostage takers.
And yet after sitting through meeting after meeting, he endorsed that decision, endorsed the sale of arms to the Ayatollah in exchange for hostages - one of the most tragic, one of the most mistaken foreign policy decisions we've ever made in this country, and I dare say encouraged others to take hostages, as we now know.
Vice Presidential Debate (full transcript)
(1) Bentsen on his disagreements with Dukakis on aid to the Nicaraguan Contras; Dukakis has called the aid policy "immoral and illegal":
Governor Dukakis and I have disagreed on the contra program, no question about that. But my big difference with this Administration is they look at the contra aid program as the only way to resolve that problem. They concentrate on that. And I really think we have to give peace a chance. And that's why I've been a strong supporter of the Arias plan - a plan that won the Nobel Prize for President Arias, the President of Costa Rica.
(2) Quayle rebutting Bentsen on the subject of campaign finance reform:
Senator Bentsen is the No. 1 PAC raiser. As a matter of fact, he used to have a $10,000 breakfast club. A $10,000 breakfast club. It only cost high-paid lobbyists, special interests in Washington, to come down and have breakfast with the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the one that oversees all the tax loopholes in the Tax Code, $10,000. I'm sure they weren't paying to have corn flakes.
(3) Bentsen on why the American people should want a change after seeing "lower interest rates, lower unemployment, lower inflation and arms control deal with the Soviet Union":
You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity too. This is an Administration that has more than doubled the national debt, and they've done that in less than eight years. They have taken this country from the No. 1 lender nation in the world to the No. 1 debtor nation in the world. And the interest on that debt next year, on this Reagan-Bush debt of the nation, is going to be $640 for every man, woman and child in America, because of this kind of a credit card mentality.
(4) Quayle/Bentsen exchange on experience:
QUAYLE: ...I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of Vice President this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the Presidency.
BENTSEN: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
QUAYLE: That was really uncalled for, Senator.
BENTSEN: You're the one that was making the comparison, Senator. And I'm one who knew him well. And frankly I think you're so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well taken.
Second Presidential Debate (full transcript)
(1) The first question of the debate and Dukakis' answer:
SHAW: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?
DUKAKIS: No, I don't, Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime. We've done so in my own state and it's one of the reasons why we have had the biggest drop in crime of any industrial state in America, why we have the lowest murder rate of any industrial state in America.
(2) Bush on the prospect of Dan Quayle becoming President:
I'd have confidence in him. And I made a good selection. And I've never seen such a pounding, an unfair pounding, on a young Senator in my entire life. And I've never seen a Presidential campaign where the Presidential nominee runs against my Vice-Presidential nominee. Never seen one before ... He founded the - authored the Job Training Partnership Act that says to American working men and women that are thrown out of work for no fault of their own that they're going to have jobs ... He, unlike my opponent, is an expert in national defense - helped amend the I.N.F. treaty, so we got a good sound treaty when these people over here were talking about a freeze.
(3) Dukakis on whether he is "likable" enough:
I won the Democratic nomination in 51 separate contests. I think I'm a reasonably likable guy. I'm serious, though I think I'm a little more lovable these days than I used to be back in my youthe when I began in my state legislature.
But I'm also a serious guy. I think the Presidency of the United States is a very serious office. And I think we have to address these issues in a very serious way.
(4) Bush on who he thinks the heroes in America today are:
I think of a teacher right here. Largely Hispanic school. Jaime Escalante, teaching calculus to young kids, 80 percent of them going on to college. I think of a young man, now in this country, named Valladares, who was released from a Cuban jail, came out and told the truth in this brilliant book ''Against All Hope'' about what is actually happening in, in Cuba. I think of those people that took us back into space again, Rick Hauck, and that crew, as people that are worthy of this ... I think of Dr. Fauci. You've probably never heard of him. Oh, you did. Ann heard of him. He's a very fine research - top doctor at National Institute of Health - working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS.
(5) Dukakis rebuttal to Bush's answer related to appointing judges:
If the Vice President of the United States thinks that Robert Bork was an outstanding appointment, that is a very good reason for voting for Mike Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen on the 8th of November. And I think Mr. Bush supported the Bork nomination.
You know, Mr. Bush has never appointed a judge. I've appointed over 130, so I have a record. And I'm very proud of it. I don't ask people whether they're Republicans or Democrats. I've appointed prosecutors. I've appointed defenders. I don't appoint people I think are liberal or people who think I --who think -- who I think are conservative. I appoint people of independence and integrity and intelligence, people who will be a credit to the bench. And those are the standards that I will use in nominating people to the Supreme Court of the United States.
(6) Bush rebuttal to Dukakis' answer on nuclear plants:
That is the closest I've ever heard the Governor of Massachusetts come to support anything having to do with nuclear. That's about as close as I've ever heard him. Yes, this Savannah River plant need - needs to be more safe. Will he join me in suggesting that we may need another plant, maybe in Idaho, to take care of the requirements - nuclear material requirements - for our Defense Department? I hope he will. This sounds like real progress here because we've had a big difference on the safe use of nuclear power for our energy base.
I believe that we must use clean, safe nuclear power. I believe that we - the more dependent we become on foreign oil, the less our national security is enhanced. And therefore, I've made some proposals to strengthen the domestic oil industry by more incentive going in to look for and find and produce oil; made some incentives in terms of secondary and tertiary production. But we're going to have to use more gas, more coal and more safe nuclear power for our energy base.
Read the full 1988 Republican platform here.
Read the full 1988 Democratic platform here.
First Presidential Debate
Vice Presidential Debate
Second Presidential Debate
Speeches and Interviews
Dukakis nomination acceptance speech
Bush nomination acceptance speech
Bush interview with Dan Rather on Iran-Contra affair
Dukakis CBS roundtable interview
PAC "Willie Horton" anti-Dukakis ad
Bush "Revolving Door" anti-Dukakis ad
Bush family ad
Bush "Dukakis in the tank" ad
Dukakis "Massachusetts miracle" ad
Dukakis long-form ad
Dukakis "out of shape America" ad
For some reason, the poll above says it is closed, even though on the "poll creator" side it says it has no deadline. This is very annoying. If you didn't vote in the first strawpoll, please feel free to vote in the poll below. I will add up the votes manually. Honor system, please do not vote in the below strawpoll if you already voted in the first one, thanks.
submitted by John_Charles_Fremont to neoliberal