Tanks for the memories, Duke

Legacy? Is that really the right word when you’re discussing Dukakis?

My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.

“You are invited to join the Northeastern community for a special celebration honoring Michael S. Dukakis.”

But someone eventually did send it along to me, and tomorrow’s “celebration” will of course be the social event of the season – NOT!

M. Stanley Dukakis is 90 years old now, 33 years after his retirement from politics due to ill health – the voters got sick of him. But how can we miss the Duke when he won’t go away?

The featured session, as it’s described, is entitled “Succession: Governors’ Reflections on the Dukakis Legacy.”

Legacy? Is that really the right word when you’re discussing Dukakis?

Among those who will be attending are ex-Govs. Bill Weld, Jane Swift, Deval Patrick and Maura Healey.

From 4-5, they’ll be having a “roundtable discussion,” the key phrase being, at least as far as Bill Weld is concerned, “round.”

As in another round over here.

That’s followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m. Think more… rounds. At least for Bill Weld.

So many questions about the “celebration.” And let’s face it, there is so very much to discuss about the Dukakis legacy.

First of all, will Willie Horton be making a cameo appearance? He is, perhaps, the most significant person in Dukakis’ sad career. He was the vicious first-degree murderer from Massachusetts who got one of the Duke’s weekend furloughs in the middle of his life sentence in prison.

Dukakis was shocked when his thug pal did not return after his 48 hours of freedom. Instead, Willie fled to Maryland where he raped a woman and stabbed her fiancé.

In 1988, then-Sen. Al Gore tried to make it an issue in the Democrat presidential primaries. But it was the Republicans and George H.W. Bush who really made Willie a household word, to illustrate how pathetically weak Dukakis was on crime.

And then Willie Horton did even more damage to his patron when he was tracked down to his new prison in Maryland. A reporter asked Willie in the fall of 1988 who he’d be voting for if he still could.

“Why, Dukakis of course!”

Willie is 72 now, doing his two life sentences plus 85 years. Is it possible Willie could make a cameo appearance at the Duke’s time – perhaps emerging out of a cake?

There should be a loop of Dukakis’ greatest hits: “a nationwide search…. national model… good jobs at good wages.”

I always remember a magic moment at the State House during one routine press conference. I was working for Channel 7 and it was near the end when he offhandedly mentioned:

“I don’t know about the pillow talk at your house, but I go to sleep at night with Kitty’s advice, counsels and urgings ringing in my ear.”

Hoping against hope, I leaned over to my cameraman and asked if he’d gotten that. He had. I used it so many times that years later, when I was doing a man-on-the-street interview for a different station, I asked an old lady to describe Dukakis in one sentence.

“He’s a hen-pecked wimp!” she snarled.

Like Willie Horton, some of the Duke’s other closest associates probably won’t be able to attend, either because of death or perhaps their parole officers.

Northeastern should definitely invest in a few commemorative posters out in the lobby – mugshots, with the Duke hacks’ Bureau of Prisons numbers underneath.

Starting with “Honest” John McGonigle, the Duke’s appointee as High Sheriff of Middlesex County. BOP #20050-038.

Honest John wasn’t the only sheriff’s vacancy the Duke filled as governor. There was also Charles Reardon of Essex County. Sheriff Reardon too went down on a federal rap – BOP #20951-038.

The Duke was always interested in education. His “education adviser” was Gerry Indelicato, who later became president of what was then Bridgewater State College. His BOP #: 09793-016.

An event like this needs music. The obvious theme song: “Tanks for the Memories,” after his famous ride in Michigan during the 1988 campaign.

Then there’s the roundtable. Jane Swift seems to be reemerging for the obscurity she so richly deserved to sink into after her waddling out of the Corner Office in 2003 with a million or so in her campaign-finance account.

First the dreadful St. Patrick’s Day breakfast and now this. How is she getting to Huntington Avenue? Does Jane again have access to the State Police helicopter?

Will she be in a “firing mood?”

Then there’s Deval Patrick. Take him, please. How did he describe the slaughter of 3,000 Americans by Muslim savages on 9/11 – “a failure of human understanding.”

I hope Deval brings along his sidekick, Tim “Crash” Murray. He was the lieutenant governor until his state car went airborne in the pre-dawn hours at 108 m.p.h. The secretary of public safety refused to release Crash’s cellphone records and was soon appointed by Deval to a judgeship.

Another nationwide search, right, all you governors. Bill Weld will chortle and pound the table and demand another round!

Maura Healey will be there too. Gov., tell us about the $10-million no-bid contract for Spinelli’s Ravioli to provide food for the foreign freeloaders in the flophouses. Then, in an amazing coincidence, the general manager of Spinelli’s handed you $3,000.

When the Haitian alleged rapist of the 14-year-old disabled girl was arrested, Healey shrugged and said, in effect, “Things like this happen.”

If only Dukakis had thought to say that when he was first asked about Willie Horton’s weekend furlough.

Yes, it should be quite the event tomorrow for the extinguished, er distinguished professor of political science emeritus.

Hey Duke, I won’t be able to make it tomorrow, but let me be the first to say:

Tanks for the memories.

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