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

(9 of 9)

During the 1988 campaign, people wondered about Quayle's actions (and even his whereabouts) in the Viet Nam War. But the startling thing is that, if he inherited the Oval Office tomorrow, Quayle would be the first President since World War II who did not serve in the military during that war. Even Jimmy Carter, the U.S. President of most recent birth (1924), was a Navy cadet during the war. Not only was Quayle born after the war -- the first baby boomer so near the top -- he is also the first man to have grown up entirely within the confines of the modern conservative movement. He was surprisingly unscarred by that (or any) experience when Bush chose him. Quayle claimed John Kennedy was just as young in 1960; but Kennedy had known prewar Europe as well as the wartime Pacific.

Stan Evans traces an arc in Quayle's career of rising (if belatedly) to expectations. The angle of the arc must now go up, dramatically. Quayle was born not only roughly a quarter-century after any preceding President; he spent another quarter-century blissfully AWOL from history. His press secretary, David Beckwith, calls the Vice President a "classic late bloomer" -- which means that the first three decades or so of his life do not matter, just the last decade. That is starting late even for a faster learner than Quayle has given evidence of being. How can he "rise to expectations" when the U.S. can expect all the troubles of a world coming out of the cold war, and when the person doing the rising came in with the cold war himself? That is why, for all the jokes, we must take Dan Quayle seriously. We must do so, because Bush did not.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. Next Page