Vice Presidential Candidates Bentsen and Quayle Debate

Defending his relative lack of experience, Quayle compared himself to Kennedy. In fact, he ignored a much closer analogy. I wonder why.

Some years ago, a moderate Republican who had been a hero during the Second World War felt that he needed to conciliate the extreme right wing of the party by naming one of them as his vice president. He therefore plucked from relative obscurity a 39-year-old man who had served just four years in the House and only two in the U.S. Senate. His telegenic choice, previously distinguished only for gross distortions of his opponent's record and character in his U.S. Senate race, proved immediately controversial. Battered by the media, this man had to fight to stay on the ticket. When, a few years after the Republican team was elected, the President had a heart attack, the country united in prayers for his recovery at least partly out of fear of what his vice president would do in office. Eventually, however, that vice president ascended to the presidency.

The apt comparison isn't between Quayle and Kennedy, but between Quayle and Nixon.



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