Since that memorable August moment on the New Orleans riverboat, when George Bush made of Dan Quayle a gift to the country and Quayle overflowed with gratitude, the question has been: Can Quayle, who seems so energetic in body and so indolent in mind, temper his enthusiasm with lucidity? The answer came when Quayle clambered onto the Omaha stage with a cutlass clenched between his teeth, eager to shed blood and vindicate Bush’s nomination of him, in defiance of the maxim Ne Puero Gladium (never give a child a sword).
Did he prove himself presidential? No, he stayed in step with the top of the ticket. From Boston Harbor to Belgian endive, Quayle touched on--no, tromped on--the themes that the Bush campaign considers neat-o. Quayle was so over-programmed it seemed that someone backstage, armed with a remote-control wand, was operating a compact disc--a very compact disc--in Quayle’s skull. His handlers, who doubtless fancy themselves clever fellows because they work so well with papier-mache, tamped into Quayle lots of itsy-bitsy slivers of ideas--notions, really; ideological lint.