J. Danforth “Dan” Quayle became the 44th Vice President of the United States, serving under George H.W. Bush from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993. Like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison and Charles Fairbanks, famous politicians who preceded him, Quayle is also a native Hoosier son.
Dan Quayle was born in the Indiana state capital city of Indianapolis, though he later moved with his family to Huntington, Indiana, where he was raised. Ultimately, Arizona became the Quayle family home state, but in 1996, Quayle considered running for the governorship of Indiana. He eventually decided against it.
Although Dan Quayle is something of a folk hero in Indianapolis history as one of the most famous people from Indianapolis, his status in United States history is and will remain a bit nebulous. In countless public speeches, he exhibited a tendency to commit verbal faux pas that were then repeated without mercy by a hostile media. Some of these mistakes were very funny, as with these famous Dan Quayle quotes that will remain part of the color of the collected American political gaffes:
- “I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican.”
- “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
- “The future will be better tomorrow.”
- “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward.”
- “It is time for the human race to enter the solar system.”
- “Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.”
- “I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.”
Though Dan Quayle became a household name principally through his arresting choice of words, he also contributed to a more lighthearted term of office than many other terms, fraught with troubles as they always are. And it’s understandable that the media seized upon Quayle’s frequent “misstatements,” which were then inevitably passed around at the water cooler the next morning.
|Video clip of David Letterman listing the “Top 10 Quayle Complaints About Clinton” on NBC’s Late Night|
Another Indianapolis native, David Letterman, was one of the most provocative on the subject, even going so far as to list his version of Quayle’s “Top 10 campaign slogans” (“Starts with ‘Q,’ just like ‘courage’”) and “Top 10 Quayle complaints about Clinton” (“When I see him on the news and wave, he doesn’t wave back”).
Aside from its humorous aspects, Quayle’s career took him to the top on the fast track, though many of the elections he won were hard-fought. Quayle started his political journey as a political assistant to then governor of Indiana, Edgar Whitcomb. He then moved on to the House of Representatives and the U.S. Sentate before being named Vice President in 1988. In 1992, he ran for reelection with Bush again, and lost to the Clinton/Gore ticket. It turned out to be the only election Quayle ever lost.
Well-liked and respected in spite of, or perhaps because of everything, Dan Quayle is the author of some hugely successful books, including Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir, The American Family and Worth Fighting For. Huntington, Indiana, where he spent his formative years, houses the only Vice-President’s Museum in America, the Dan Quayle Center.
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