News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, September 1, 2008

Make sure Palin knows how to spell “potato”

By now the McCain team undoubtedly has Sarah Palin on a crash course in a number of subjects: national security, international relations, politics inside the Beltway, handling the national media, and a host of other areas where her skimpy resume needs bolstering. Given the dim bulb performance of Dan Quayle, another obscure vice-presidential nominee selected by the elder George Bush during the 1988 campaign, the McCain handlers might also want to make sure Palin knows how to spell “potato.”

Quayle and Palin share a lot of traits: both were virtual unknowns on the national scene when selected as running mates, both were better-than-average in appearance, and both brought hard-line conservative credentials the head of the Republican ticket lacked.

Quayle’s frequent gaffes during the 1998 campaign soon relegated him to nightly fodder for late-night talk show monologues. The ridicule continued throughout his term as vice president, culminating in a career-defining moment in 1992 when Quayle corrected a grade school student during a spelling bee, insisting the proper spelling for the source of french fries was “potatoe.” The incident permanently cemented Quayle’s reputation as an intellectual lightweight. The defeat in 1992 of the Bush/Quayle ticket by Clinton/Gore ended Dan Quayle’s short-lived tenure in the national spotlight.

Thankfully for the United States, George H.W. Bush survived his one and only term in the White House. It is frightening to consider what the world would be like today had Dan Quayle become president. Even more alarming is that John McCain is eight years older than the senior Bush was during the 1988 election. So the specter of an untested novice becoming commander-in-chief is chillingly real.

If John McCain wins the election, every American should pray daily for his health.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez