The Good is Oft Interred with the Bones: Vice President Dan Quayle

Indiana-born James Danforth Quayle’s meteoric political career began when he was elected to Congress in 1976 at age 29. He was elected to the United States Senate at age 33. He was elected the 44th Vice President of the United States at age 41. Quayle made a series of gaffes that took him out of the running to succeed George H. W. Bush as president.

“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.”

Dan Quayle

“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

Dan Quayle

Speaking at a United Negro College Fund event, Quayle tried to reference the motto ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

“What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.”

Dan Quayle

“I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy – but that could change.”

Dan Quayle

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

Dan Quayle

“We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward.”

Dan Quayle

“I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.”

Dan Quayle

“I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix.”

Dan Quayle

“For NASA, space is still a high priority.”

Dan Quayle

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

Dan Quayle

Quayle’s most devastating gaffe occurred in 1992 at an elementary school spelling bee. Quayle, referring to an incorrect flash card, encouraged a student to add an ‘e’ at the end of the word ‘potato’. Years later Quayle remembered the incident:

“It was more than a gaffe. It was a ‘defining moment’ of the worst imaginable kind. I can’t overstate how discouraging and exasperating the whole event was.”

Dan Quayle

Quayle’s elective political career was over before he left the vice presidency.

Fast forward to January 2021. Vice President Mike Pence was pressured by President Trump to interfere in the 2020 Electoral College vote count. Pence sought advice from his fellow Indianan, former Vice President Dan Quayle. Quayle’s recommendation to Pence was documented in “Peril,” a book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa:

“Over and over, Pence asked if there was anything he could do. ‘Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away,’ Quayle told him. Pence pressed again. ‘You don’t know the position I’m in,’ ‘’I do know the position you’re in,’ Quayle responded. ‘I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That’s all you do. You have no power.’”

Bob Woodward and Robert Cost

Dan Quayle will forever be remembered as the promising young politician who squandered his career, but in the darkest moments of 2021, J. Danforth Quayle was instrumental in saving our democracy. The good will be interred with the bones.






Thanks and a tip of the hat to By PH2 Charles W. Moore – U.S. Department of Defense photo, VIRIN: DN-SC-91-03997, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10869429 for the image.

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