FRONTLINE/TIME: A SPECIAL REPORT: THE CHOICE {CAMPAIGN SPECIAL} (TV)

Summary

One in this series of documentary films. This campaign special, broadcast two weeks before the 1988 presidential election, offers an in-depth look at the lives and careers of Republican candidate George Herbert Walker Bush and Democratic candidate Michael Stanley Dukakis. Narrated by presidential historian Garry Wills, the documentary provides detailed biographical profiles of the candidates and chronicles the progression of their political careers through the use of still photographs, archival footage, and interviews with friends, family, colleagues, and associates of both. In an attempt to evaluate the abilities and agenda that each would bring to the presidency, the program explores how their conduct in the political arena has been shaped by their family backgrounds, personal lives, motivations, aspirations, and personality traits, and examines their leadership abilities and approaches to policy-making. The program begins with introductory remarks by host Judy Woodruff. Topics addressed in the segments on Bush include the following: Bush's privileged background as the son of an international financier; his childhood and youth in exclusive Greenwich, Conn.; his family's ethics and values; his academic record; his service in the Navy during World War II; his involvement in the Texas oil business in the 1950s; the death of his three-year-old daughter, Robin, from leukemia; his unsuccessful campaigns for the Senate in 1964 and 1970; President Richard Nixon's appointment of Bush as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and later as chairman of the Republican National Committee; his successful tenure as director of the Central Intelligence Agency; his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980; his duties as vice president in the Reagan administration; and speculation about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Topics discussed in the segments on Dukakis include the following: Dukakis's childhood and youth in Brookline, Mass.; how the immigrant values of his parents motivated him to achieve; his academic record; his brother, Stelian, who attempted suicide and was later killed by a hit-and-run driver; the reform movement led by Dukakis to combat political corruption in the Massachusetts state government; his unsuccessful campaign for the post of lieutenant governor; criticism of Dukakis's solution to the Boston school system's integration problem in the 1974; his successful Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign against Republican incumbent Frank Sargent; his unpopular decision to cut salaries and funding for state programs to decrease the state deficit; his loss of the governorship in 1978 and re-election in 1982; his teaching assignment at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1978 to 1982; and his creative solutions to the state deficit problem following his re-election in 1982. Segments about Bush include interviews with his brother Jonathan; his friends John and Susan Overbey; English teacher Hart Leavitt and coach Frank DiClemente of Phillips Academy, Andover; Rep. Thomas Ashley; oil executive John Ashmun; Dr. Dorothy Wyvell; his wife, Barbara Bush; Martin Allday, campaign manager for Bush's 1964 senatorial race; the Rev. John Stevens; former press secretary Pete Roussel; Dr. Ray Cline, former assistant secretary of state and deputy director of intelligence for the CIA; Adm. Dan Murphy, chief of staff for Vice President Bush from 1981 to 1985; Dr. Richard Pipes of Harvard University; Arthur Cox, former senior official, CIA and the State Department; David Keene, national political director for Bush's 1980 presidential campaign; Republican economist William Niskanen; Frederick Khedouri, former deputy chief of staff; and Republican consultant Eddie Mahe. Segments about Dukakis include interviews with his mother, Euterpe; his cousin Arthur; his high school classmates Bob Wool and Sandy Bakalar; his Swathmore college classmates Judy Rapoport, Victor Navasky, and Judy Davison; his friends Merna and Don Lipsitt; his wife, Kitty Dukakis; attorney Herb Gleason; Brookline activist Jonathan Fine; former state legislators Martin Linsky and Beryl Cohen; Hubie Jones, dean, Boston University School of Social Work; Richard Manley of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation; Human Services lobbyist Judy Meredith; Michael Widmer, former director of communications; and Ira Jackson, former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Also included are brief clips of the following: Barry Goldwater speaking at the 1964 Republican National Convention; Bush speaking on behalf of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis; Nixon's resignation speech (1974); demonstrations in Boston over the school integration issue (1974); Sen. John Parker and Rep. Barney Frank criticizing Dukakis; President Gerald Ford; Dukakis' campaigning against challenger Edward King in the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial election; a tense New Hampshire debate between Bush and Ronald Reagan, both contenders for the Republican presidential nomination (1980); Reagan nominating Bush for vice president at the Republican National Convention (1980); Bush visiting Beirut after the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks, and visiting El Salvador to negotiate with military officials about cessation of death squad murders; and a speech by Dukakis following his landslide re-election for governor (1986). Woodruff makes closing remarks and concludes the program with a brief tribute to the late Bud Benjamin, a member of the "Frontline" editorial advisory board.

Acquisition and cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS WNET New York, NY
  • DATE: October 24, 1988 Monday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:41:25
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T91:0188
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1983-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • David Fanning … Executive Producer
    • Michael Sullivan … Senior Producer
    • Sherry Jones … Producer, Director, Reporter
    • Elizabeth Sams … Co-Producer, Reporter
    • Christopher Buchanan … Field Producer, Reporter
    • Foster Wiley … Co-Director, Camera
    • Garry Wills … Correspondent, Narrator
    • Judy Woodruff … Host
    • Martin Allday
    • Thomas Ashley
    • John Ashmun
    • Sandy Bakalar
    • Bud Benjamin
    • Lloyd Bentsen
    • Barbara Bush
    • George Bush
    • Jonathan Bush
    • Ray Cline
    • Beryl Cohen
    • Arthur Cox
    • Judy Davison
    • Frank DiClemente
    • Arthur Dukakis
    • Euterpe Dukakis
    • Kitty Dukakis
    • Michael Dukakis
    • Stelian Dukakis
    • Jonathan Fine
    • Gerald R. Ford
    • Barney Frank
    • Herb Gleason
    • Barry Goldwater
    • Ira Jackson
    • Hubie Jones
    • David Keene
    • Frederick Khedouri
    • Edward J. King
    • Hart Leavitt
    • Martin Linsky
    • Don Lipsitt
    • Merna Lipsitt
    • Eddie Mahe
    • Richard Manley
    • Judy Meredith
    • Dan Murphy
    • Victor Navasky
    • William Niskanen
    • Richard M. Nixon
    • John Overbey
    • Susan Overbey
    • John Parker
    • Richard Pipes
    • Judy Rapoport
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Pete Roussel
    • Francis W. Sargent
    • John Sasso
    • John Stevens
    • Michael Widmer
    • Bob Wool
    • Dorothy Wyvell