The Common Good
May-June 1999

Rested and Ready

by Ed Spivey Jr. | May-June 1999

"What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or, not to have a mind is being very
wasteful. How true that is." Tough words from a tough man. The man: Dan Quayle. The
words: I have ...

"What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or, not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is." Tough words from a tough man. The man: Dan Quayle. The words: I have no idea. But they were spoken with the seriousness and confidence

that can only come from a selfless public servant who once said, "I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made."

Forgetting for the moment that being president is a speaking part, Dan Quayle, the heir-transparent to George Bush’s teeny little legacy, has announced his candidacy for the highest office in the land. Or, to use his own words, "It’s not the highest in altitude, of course, since a mountain is much higher than that. And you wouldn’t put an office on a mountain, because all your memo thingies would blow away." Okay, I just made that up (or I could put it on the Internet and then it would be true). But I didn’t make up this one: "I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."

Yes, Dan Quayle is back, and I know I speak for pundits everywhere when I say how much I’ve missed him. People can criticize the media for being secular, but I’m telling you the idea of having Dan Quayle back on the campaign trail is causing journalists to fall on their knees in religious fervor, thanking God for the bounty of His or Her blessings. Writers who previously only used the name of Jesus Christ with the middle initial "H" are now giving all credit to the risen Lord who, in his mercy and divine sense of humor, has rolled away the stone of political reason and brought Dan Quayle back from the dead.

Instead of sleeping through the rhetorical sparrings of Steve Forbes (or is it Steve Business Week?) and whichever of the Bush brothers is running (is it Jeb, or his other brother Jeb?), now we have the prospect of Dan Quayle being up there on the dais. And SAYING STUFF! Like this: "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."

Ooooh! What looked to be an extremely dull presidential campaign now has the potential to make newspaper readers spontaneously spew breakfast coffee over their entire families as they check out what the master soliloquist said the night before.

As a reminder of what lies ahead, let’s review the record of a man who has already stated clearly his positions on the bread and butter issues of the day. And, who, if asked, would not hesitate to demonstrate by spreading butter all over his hand and then getting a piece of bread out and forcefully declaring, "No, that’s not right—I think you get the bread out first and then spread on the butter."

But seriously, Dan Quayle has spoken—and spoken clearly—as this brief summary of his actual words reveals:

"The future will be better tomorrow. But we don’t want to go back to tomorrow. We want to go forward."

"We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world."

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy—but that could change."

"One word sums up the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared.’"

"It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

"I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."

"I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."

(Stop. STOP! I’m spewing coffee over my entire family!)

"Words are THE MOST important part of language. Without words you couldn’t talk and you can’t have language without talking. Not to mention words." That’s the kind of rhetoric we can expect during the Quayle candidacy, even though he didn’t say that. But that’s the kind of rhetoric I’m prepared to make up if he lets us down and suddenly becomes cogent or glib. We can’t have that. Which is why our shameless mockery of Dan Quayle has to be only slightly shameless with just a smidgen of mocking, so as not to scare him away from the two things that make him such a national treasure: a podium and a microphone.

Thus, as our nation’s electorate begins to make the tough choices of what to do on election day next year instead of voting, we promise to be fair and measured in any criticism we may have of the man who for four years didn’t know how to spell "potato." (Hint: one "p.")

Specifically, we promise that for every time we make fun of Dan Quayle we’ll also make fun of another candidate.

Okay, how about this: For every three times we poke fun at Dan Quayle...actually, this could be more difficult than I thought. Unless Lamar "The Shirt" Alexander proves once again that he can answer the really tough political questions, such as: "Lamar who?"

IN FAIRNESS to Dan Quayle’s election bid, it must be said that not everyone is laughing at the idea. In fact, Republican leaders have been enthusiastic about Quayle’s candidacy and have promised their party’s full support as soon as monkeys can fly.

To his credit, Quayle has already announced a decisive and hard-hitting approach to governing. He has pledged that the day he takes office he would immediately call for the impeachment and removal of the president, thus bringing a merciful end to our national nightmare.

So let the campaign begin. I can’t waite.

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