Although we've never had a distinguished view of the vice presidency, we have never had a vice president who has fit the stereotype so perfectly as J. Danforth Quayle - the image of the complete non-entity who is chosen because he will never upstage the president.
The closest we came until Quayle was Herbert Hoover's vice president, Charley Curtis, who was described by one commentator as a "mediocrity who is as faithful and devoted to his party as he is dull and dumb."Predictably, the immortal character of Alexander Throttlebottom from "Of Thee I Sing" was created during Hoover's administration, based heavily on the real vice president of the United States.
But we have never before had a vice president whose syntactical aberrations could be so easily documented that two 1991 calendars could be devoted to them.
One is "A Dan for All Seasons," published by the Quayle Quarterly, which devotes itself to silly things the vice president says and does, and the other is "Quayl-isms," published by Sterling Calendars.
You can now have a calendar in which each month is devoted to a different silly statement actually made by Dan Quayle. And that isn't all of them.
So in case some of you think Quayle's reputation has been exaggerated, I have decided to list for you now all the documented silly statements made by Dan Quayle - remember these are actual statements!
- "We understand the importance of the bondage between parent and child." (He meant to say "bonding," though some parents might argue that "bondage" is more accurate.)
- "We looked him right across the eyes." (Telling how he defied President Reagan on the steel bill.)
- "Mars is essentially in the same orbit . . . somewhat the same distance from the sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe." (Explaining why the United States should send a manned mission to Mars.)
- "I'm smart enough not to get into a contest about whether I am smarter than my wife or my wife is smarter than me." (Responding to a question as to whether his wife is smarter than he is.)
- "What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind as very wasteful. How true that is." (Paraphrasing the United Negro College Fund motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste.")
- "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is `to be prepared.' "
- "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." (Responding to a question on "Prime Time Live.")
- "I didn't live in this century." (Explaining an earlier misstatement.)
- "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history." (Commenting on the book "Nicholas and Alexandra.")
- "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- "Bobby Knight told me this: `There's nothing that a good defense cannot beat a better offense.' In other words, a good offense wins." (Explaining the Strategic Defense Initiative - SDI.)
- "It's rural America. It's where I came from. We always refer to ourselves as real America. Rural America, real America, real, real, America."
- "I'm going to be a vice president very much like George Bush was. He proved to be a very effective vice president, perhaps the most effective we've had in a couple of hundred years."
- "You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been and as far as I'm concerned happy campers you will always be." (Greeting the people of American Samoa.)
- "Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here." (Addressing the people of Hawaii.)
- "The Holocaust . . . was one of the most obscene periods in our nation's history." (Apparently forgetting that it was Germany, not America, that perpetrated the Holocaust.)
- "I did what any normal person would do at that age. You call home. You call home to Mother and Father and say, `I'd like to get into the National Guard." (Explaining how he got into the Indiana National Guard instead of having to go to Vietnam.)
- "I will talk to them (the Cabinet) and I'll work with them and I will know them on a firsthand basis." (When asked during the vice presidential debate what he would do if a national tragedy suddenly pushed him into the White House.)
- "She has a very major cause and a very major interest . . . me." (Explaining his wife Marilyn's ambitions.)
- "It reminded me of my time at school." (Remarking that his favorite movie is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off.")
- "This next Thursday, July 20, will be a historic date for America as America celebrates the 20th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Lukens' walk on the moon." (It was Buzz Aldrin, not Buzz Lukens, who walked on the moon. Lukens is a Republican congressman who was sentenced to 30 days in jail after being convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old girl.)
I rest my case.