Let us now praise J. Danforth Quayle.

Yeah, I know. It sticks in my craw too. Then again, with the reputations of such fabled characters as Jimmy Carter and the late Richard Nixon now safely on the road to rehabilitation, it was just a matter of time before it dawned on everyone that Dan Quayle, misstatements and tortured syntax notwithstanding, was not by any means the dumbest person ever to run for President. In fact, had the former Vice-President been able to hold out a few months longer, one of the other year-2000 wannabes would almost certainly have staked a far better claim to this dubious honor.

Exactly which of the deluded souls seeking the White House would replace Quayle as National Punch Line isn't entirely clear just yet, but there are signs that the candidates are already jockeying for position. One opening is the sudden appearance of a rumor of a (gulp) "inappropriate relationship" between Gary Bauer and one of his campaign workers, a rumor which Bauer believes was floated by a couple of former aides now working for Steve Forbes — which might make some sense, given Forbes' delusion that his appeal to the Republican base stems from something other than an eight-digit MasterCard limit. But if Forbes and his staff did spread this story, and it turns out not to be true — and as of this writing, there is no evidence at all that Bauer has done anything untoward with the young lady in question — it's as good as a potato(e) up Steve's brass-plated tailpipe.

Not that cluelessness is purely a function of the right wing, either. Warren Beatty — gawd, not another actor! — has been making noises like his fictional Senator Bulworth, with the hint that he might throw his expensive designer hat into the Presidential ring. I don't think even Don Quixote would tilt at this windmill, and even the thought of Annette Bening as First Lady doesn't make this image any less unsettling.

Meanwhile, driven out of the campaign by people with more money and no more ideas, Quayle observes: "The media will always concentrate on sex and drugs and gaffes and mistakes, but those things really aren't terribly relevant." Good call, Dan.

The Vent

#167
1 October 1999

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