Barack Obama is no Dan Quayle

Barack Obama is no Dan Quayle

In yesterday’s newspaper, at the bottom of the editorial cartoon canvas, was an op/ed cartoon that made me smile. It had Barack Obama sitting on a pedestal with three quote bubbles around his head. The first said, “I see many of our fallen war heroes in the audience today.” The second reads, “My Grandpa helped liberate Auschwitz.” The final bubble quotes Obama as saying, “I’ve campaigned in all fifty-seven states.”

Those gaffes by Barack Obama are fast becoming legendary in this 2008 presidential campaign, and the liberal left shrugs them off and says, “Instead of you right-wingers jumping all over these little verbal mistakes, how about you discuss the issues.”

We have discussed the issues, and Barack has proven to fail poorly. He is the most liberal senator with views that rival Marxist and Lenin.

Back to the cartoon, as Obama is being quoted with his many gaffes, the press is standing off to the right saying to each other, “It’s a good thing he’s not Dan Quayle, or we’d have to report all of these gaffes.”

How short the memory of the liberal left truly is.

Whenever some gaffe by George W. Bush occurred, the liberal media would have a field day, and compare it to the now famous gaffe in 1992 by then Vice President Dan Quayle.

Two presidents since Dan Quayle’s Vice Presidency ended, and with two failed presidential bids now behind him, ex-Vice President Quayle still ranks as America’s favorite dumb politician because of what happened in Trenton on June 15, 1992 when he tried to spell p-o-t-a-t-o. I am sure you older folks remember that day well. It was the day that a Trenton sixth grader had to teach the Vice President of the United States that potato is not spelled with an “e” on the end. Granted, an “e” appears in the word in the plural form, but Dan Quayle was not given the benefit of the “I misspoke” excuse, or was the true events surrounding the gaffe even considered.

This infamous gaffe had such an impact that it essentially knocked Dan Quayle out of politics, and in his 1994 memoir, Quayle devotes a whole chapter to the events that surround the best known gaffe in history, and how it impacted his political career.

“It was a defining moment of the worst kind imaginable,” Quayle wrote in the autobiography. “Politicians live and die by the symbolic sound bite.”

A Washington Post article at the time of the gaffe suggested the Trenton spelling error got such wide media play because “it seemed like a perfect illustration of what people thought about Dan Quayle anyway.”

A few months after the incident, Dan Quayle and President George Bush were voted out of office, to be replaced by Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore. To this day, the mere mention of Dan Quayle’s name brings back memories of how he misspelled potato, making it one of the best known political jokes.

But why has Quayle’s gaffe been fodder for American comedians ever since the incident, yet Barack Obama’s repeated gaffes are ignored, or shrugged off as a simple verbal mistake? After all, I thought in politics that a political career is largely about image, and gaffes like Obama’s would be devastating to his candidacy if he was any other politician.

Even more interesting is that Dan Quayle, despite his boyish looks, was a well-informed, politically savvy young man.

During most of his term as Vice President, Dan Quayle traveled around the world representing the president of the United States. He had meetings with heads of state, gave speeches to all types of groups, and Dan Quayle managed to avoid any serious gaffes.

June 15, 1992, however, would be the day of the gaffe that would ruin his political career.

The day began with Quayle flying out of Washington for a speech in New York. Quayle told the Manhattan Institute that New York was a mess because the liberal political policies of the past 40 years had failed.

Quayle, however, knew little about his next stop, but a visit to Trenton was needed to help spotlight the city’s Weed and Seed program, which still provides anti-drug education to grade schoolers while they also are being watched by adults until their parents get home from work.

The visit in Trenton was the Munoz Rivera School, where Quayle spoke with some women involved in the anti-drug program. He saw a drill team perform and looked in on some self-esteem classes before his aides started hustling him off to another classroom for a staged spelling bee.

The idea was to have Dan Quayle read words off of some flash cards, and have the kids spell them on the blackboard.

An aide asked, “Has anyone checked the cards?”

“Oh, yeah,” responded another. “We looked at them and they’re just very simple words. No big deal.”

William Figueroa, age 12, a sixth-grader from the Mott School in the South Ward who had been bused to Munoz Rivera to take part in the vice presidential event, knew how to spell potato, and he wrote it in a legible script on the blackboard when Quayle announced his word for the spelling bee.

Quayle looked at the blackboard, then at his contest card, and gently and quietly told the boy, “You’re close, but you left a little something off. The “e” on the end.

“So William, against his better judgment and trying to be polite, added an “e” and won applause for it from those assembled in the classroom, including Mayor Doug Palmer.

The misspelling wasn’t mentioned until the end of the press conference afterward, when one reporter asked Quayle, “How do you spell potato?”

“I gave him a puzzled look, and then the press started laughing. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized anything was wrong,” wrote Quayle in his 1994 memoir.

None of the staff had caught it, or told him. Dan Quayle was caught off guard, and began to rattle something about not getting into spelling matters, to fill the air.

The following morning the front-page story in the newspaper was about how the Vice President couldn’t spell potato, and how he was basically an idiot.

On national television the scene in the Trenton classroom was playing over and over. Comedians loved it, and the David Letterman Show called The Trentonian newspaper the morning after seeking help locating young Figueroa so he could be invited on the show.

The young man did indeed join Letterman’s show, saying to David Letterman on the air, “I knew he was wrong, but since he’s the vice president I went back to the blackboard and put an “e” on the end and went back to my seat.” He then added, “I know he’s not an idiot, but he needs to study more. Do you have to go to college to be vice president?”

The potato incident became a campaign weapon for the Democrats backing Clinton and Gore. Figueroa was flown in to deliver the pledge of allegiance at the Democratic National Convention that summer. Image-conscious Quayle tried to laugh it off, but his memoir indicates that he was fuming mad about the gaffe and blamed his aides for letting it happen, and blamed the press for exploiting it.

One small verbal blunder, and Dan Quayle’s political career was six feet under.

By the way, William Figueroa later became a high school dropout who had fathered a child and was working a low-paying job at an auto showroom at the age of 17.

Fast forward to 2008, and the many gaffes of Barack Obama. Dan Quayle was known for his position on family values, and strong conservative viewpoints. He was considered by many Republicans as well as a number of non-Republicans as articulate and intelligent, or at least until the potato incident. Obama, however, is known as the liberal senator with a Muslim father, and too many gaffes to count.

Here’s a list of some of Obama’s gaffes:

A year ago Barack Obama claimed that Kansas tornadoes killed a whopping 10,000 people, while the actual death toll was 12.

Earlier this month in Oregon, Barack Obama proclaimed that there are 57 states, or more.

Last week, in front of a roaring Sioux Falls, South Dakota audience, Obama exulted: “Thank you Sioux City…I said it wrong. I’ve been in Iowa for too long. I’m sorry.”

Explaining last week why he was trailing Hillary Clinton in Kentucky, Obama again botched basic geography, saying, “Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it’s not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle.” Question is, on what map is Arkansas closer to Kentucky than Illinois?

Last March, on the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, he claimed his parents united as a direct result of the civil rights movement, saying, “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born.” Thing is, Obama was born in 1961. The Selma march took place in 1965.

Earlier this month in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Obama tried to show off his knowledge of the war in Afghanistan by honing in on a lack of translators, saying, “We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it’s harder for us to use them in Afghanistan.” The real reason, however, that it’s more difficult for us to use those translators in Afghanistan is because Iraqis speak Arabic or Kurdish. The Afghanis speak Pashto, Farsi, or other non-Arabic languages.

A week ago in Oregon, Obama pleaded ignorance of the decades-old, multi-billion-dollar massive Hanford nuclear waste clean-up. Problem is, he’s voted on at least one defense authorization bill that addressed the “costs, schedules, and technical issues” dealing with the nation’s most contaminated nuclear waste site. Specifically, Hanford.

Last March, the Chicago Tribune reported this little-noticed nugget about a fake autobiographical detail in Obama’s Dreams from My Father: “Then, there’s the copy of Life magazine that Obama presents as his racial awakening at age 9. In it, he wrote, was an article and two accompanying photographs of an African-American man physically and mentally scarred by his efforts to lighten his skin. In fact, the Life article and the photographs don’t exist, say the magazine’s own historians.”

And of course in his vast expertise regarding foreign relations, and specifically, Iran, Obama recently told a Portland crowd that Iran doesn’t “pose a serious threat to us”–cluelessly arguing that “tiny countries” with small defense budgets can’t do us harm– and then promptly flip-flopped the next day, claiming, “I’ve made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave.”

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his supporters argue that Obama should be president of the United States of America because of his superior judgement. All the while, the liberal media is ignoring his ignorance, and inability to keep his facts straight.

If Obama was a Republican, his political career, like Dan Quayle’s, would be over.

Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 4:31 am  Leave a Comment  

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