THE INAUGURATION OF GEORGE BUSH : Controversy Left Behind as Quayle Takes on Role of Bush Understudy
James Danforth Quayle assumed the vice presidency Friday with pomp and celebration, on a sun-streaked day virtually without the contentiousness and controversy that marred his five-month transformation from little-known Indiana senator to the second-highest official in the land.
And while clearly elated, Quayle early on assumed the role of loyal understudy he will have to play as President Bush’s second-in-command. He smiled and waved reservedly, occasionally jumped out of his parade limousine to greet crowds--following the same gesture from Bush--and otherwise added little to the public record of the day’s events.
In short, he became George Bush’s George Bush--the 44th vice president of the United States.
O’Connor Recites Oath
Officially, the shift to high office came moments before noon, when Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recited the vice presidential oath to Quayle, standing on a massive podium before the majestic west front of the Capitol.
Next to the vice president stood his wife, Marilyn Tucker Quayle, smiling proudly as she held the family’s 1890 Bible, and their children--Tucker, 14, Benjamin, 12, and Corinne, 10.
“I, James Danforth Quayle, swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Quayle declared.
O’Connor unintentionally omitted the next line of the oath--"against all enemies foreign and domestic"--leading Quayle to do the same. But after reciting the rest of the pledge, O’Connor added a hasty “Congratulations.” Quayle beamed.
In the other major public event of the day, Quayle won warm reviews from the crowds that stretched along the inaugural parade route from the bunting-bedecked Capitol to the White House, the new home of Quayle’s senior partner, Bush.
And Quayle, 41, returned their fervor by three times jumping out of his limousine. Their three children preceding them, Quayle and his wife held hands and walked down the street, waving shyly in comparison to the more physically exuberant Bushes.
Later, using a loudspeaker built into his black limousine, Quayle saluted the crowd.
“Have a great day!” he exclaimed. “See a lot of smiles!”
Coatless, Quayle also offered a mock-serious warning to parade-goers perched on nearby roofs and windowsills. “Don’t fall off--you might hurt someone,” he chided.
Amid the crowd, Quayle supporters were plentiful.
“This is great. Exciting! It is history,” said 33-year-old Ray Frye of Harrisonburg, Va. “We like George Bush. And we like Dan Quayle, too. They will be a great team.”
Added 13-year-old Lauren Rubin, a schoolgirl from Rockville, Md.:
“We came because we wanted to see Bush . . . and so we could get out of school. And Quayle is kind of cute, too.”
But at least one protester tried to resurrect the discord that has marked Quayle’s entry into national politics. Carrying a sign that proclaimed, “Dan Quayle for President,” the man offered a caustic explanation for his support: “We need a draft dodger in the White House.” Quayle was besieged during the campaign with questions about his enlistment in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, when Guard enlistments were often seen as a means of avoiding service in Southeast Asia.
The beginning of Quayle’s day, as routine as when he was Indiana’s junior senator, stood in stark contrast to the regal traditions to follow.
Dining on a simple breakfast of Grape Nuts, orange juice and a sip of coffee at his McLean, Va., home, Quayle early Friday turned to his first decision of the day: picking the passage to which he would open the 1890 family Bible when he took his oath.
Marilyn Quayle, a devout Christian, chose three finalists, leaving the vice president to select his favorite. He picked the final verse of the 29th Psalm: “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.”
After the inaugural parade, the Quayles were to attend the 12 inaugural balls, dancing along with the Bushes. Marilyn Quayle was not expecting much from her partner, Quayle joked recently, despite the two years he spent in dancing school as a boy.
“Marilyn thinks I’m terrible,” he said, adding bemusedly that he could find no reason to disagree.
Although Friday marked Quayle for new duties, not all of the routines will change. The Quayles will remain in their McLean, Va., home, pending renovations to the vice president’s residence on Massachusetts Avenue. The residence, as it was configured before the Bushes’ departure, does not have adequate space for the three Quayle children, aides to the new vice president have said. The family expects to make its formal move in early February.
As for the job, Quayle said Thursday that he intends to make a substantive mark on the vice presidency, despite the predictions by some in the new Administration that he will disappear entirely from view for long stretches of time.
Staff writer David Lauter contributed to this story.