George Bush, Sr. had a difficult decision to make during the summer of his 1988 presidential campaign. Who was going to be his running mate? The Vice-President is an important factor to a U.S. election, mostly because the person chosen is a heartbeat away from the presidency, so he sat up for several nights going over the various possibilities, debating the positives and negatives, and finally, at the Republic National Convention, announced his choice: Dan Quayle.
On paper, the one-term Senator from Indiana seemed like a perfect choice. He was a handsome man, he had great hair, and his conservative voting record would help shore up George Bush’s standing with Republican voters, which was on shaky ground at the time. Sure, he didn’t have much experience but… look at that smile!
It quickly became apparent, though, that Senator Quayle was not particularly gifted in the brains department. He constantly misspoke, confusing different tenses with each other, and rearranged words in a manner that English professors had previously never thought possible. The politician soon became renowned for his verbal gaffes and widely perceived degree of lesser intelligence (which, in the past, had been considered vital traits for a sitting Vice-President.)
The most famous example is probably the potato incident. Dan Quayle was visiting a spelling bee in Trenton, New Jersey when the word ‘potato’ come up. The contestant, William Figueroa, spelled the word correctly, but the Vice-President claimed that he did not, insisting it was actually spelled ‘potatoe’. He was wrong. Late night talk show hosts would skewer him relentlessly for this gaff over the next several months, but that’s probably just because they’re in the pockets of the Idaho potato cartels.
Some legendary quotes from Dan Quayle:
– “I have made good judgments in the Past. I have made good judgments in the Future.”
– “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.”
– “When I have been asked during these last weeks who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame.”
– “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system.”
– “Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.”
– “I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy – but that could change.”
– “We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.”