Dan Quayle's Diplomatic Debut

In his first foray abroad, he avoids mistakes -- and Communists

The scene was rich with possibility. In the front row of the Caracas theater where Venezuela's newly elected President Carlos Andres Perez would be inaugurated sat U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, neophyte diplomat, basher of Communism and self-described "cheerleader" for democracy. A mere six seats to Quayle's right sat Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the bearded antithesis of everything Quayle stands for. Was a confrontation reminiscent of Richard Nixon's 1959 Moscow "kitchen debate" with Nikita Khrushchev in the offing?

In the end, Quayle and Castro exchanged nothing more than an occasional glance. After Perez was sworn in, Castro, flanked by a huge...

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