“The worst thing is to identify somebody as a choice, only to find there’s a problem and they can’t be nominated or there is a better person," former Vice President Dan Quayle told Politico.
Few have a better understanding of the problems that arise when a person is installed into a position of power far beyond their abilities than Quayle.
During his brief time in the national spotlight, Quayle delighted in playing with a fertility doll sporting a massive erection, bullied a schoolboy into spelling "potato" with an "e" and once celebrated "the bondage between a mother and child."
To be fair, most of Quayle's advice for Obama is perfectly reasonable: carefully vet your team, make sure folks understand where their loyalties must lie, deploy your VP selectively, get input from Capitol Hill to help keep things running smoothly ...
That said, a compilation of Quayle's oratory is a dizzying display of -- one hesitates to say "stupidity," though it's tempting -- confusion:
- "[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- "But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."
- "We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward."
- "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."
One piece of advice that Obama clearly absorbed from Quayle is to avoid comparing himself to America's past presidents. During his debate with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bensten, Quayle famously tried to deflect concerns about his preparedness for the White House by comparing his record of public service to that of John F. Kennedy.
"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," responded Bensten, in what still stands as the greatest off-the-cuff skewering in debate history.
What got lost in this moment was Quayle's pathetic rejoinder.
"That was really uncalled for, Senator."
As was your advice, sir.
But if this year's campaign season is any indication, Joe "Gaffe Machine" Biden may make people forget all about Dan Quayle.