DAN QUAYLE: Late Bloomer

Dan Quayle spent much of his life blissfully AWOL from history, a huge handicap even for a faster learner than he has given evidence of being

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 9)

Influence should have counted at DePauw University, an old Methodist school in northern Indiana with loyal alumni and great institutional pride. Quayle was a third-generation Pulliam at the school, a member of the same fraternity (Delta Kappa Epsilon) to which his grandfather, father and uncle had belonged. His grandfather founded the national journalism fraternity Sigma Delta Chi at DePauw, gave the school many bequests and served on its board. There was a Pulliam Chair in History until just before Dan's arrival on campus. "If I had known he was a Pulliam," says Ted Katula, the athletic director who was Quayle's golf coach, "that would have impressed me. Pulliams are big here. I didn't learn he was one till he was running for Congress." Yet Katula was the member of the university staff Quayle saw the most. Little was made of Quayle's being a Pulliam because few people knew it. He did not bring the subject up. In his experience, family ties were as much a source of division as advantage.

Quayle got special treatment at DePauw in one provable case: he graduated with a major in politics without taking the required course in political theory. When he flunked the theoretical parts of the final exam, he was given a special exam without those parts. He was one of two students for whom this was done that year, and the common denominator in their case is not family (the other man was not a Pulliam) but a quarrel between the department head and the teacher of political theory over the size and kind of assignments given in the course. The two students had dropped the class when there were protests that the teacher, newly arrived from Harvard, had too long a reading list, protests the department head energetically backed. If other teachers went easy on Quayle, it was because he is the kind of person for whom people like to do favors. They were just doing what George Bush would later do on a colossal scale.

Quayle, who has refused to release his college and law school transcripts, was certainly no student at DePauw. The teachers who disliked him did so because he was good at getting by on charm. He was serious only about golf, a family passion instilled in him during the long Arizona days of his adolescence. His father, who has a unilaterally disarming candor, admits overstating it when he said of Dan's major, "If he's anything like his old man, it was probably booze and broads." But the minutes of Quayle's fraternity have this entry: "A petition was submitted to have Bro. Quayle censured for his violation of house security. It was moved he be: 1) fined $25, 2) removed from all house offices, 3) warn him that his pin will be lifted if he does it again. A motion was accepted to table the petition's motion." Violating house security means having unauthorized persons in one's room.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9