Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quayleisms and Quirky Quotes: Embracing the Human Side of Politicians and the Power of Language


In honor of Election Day, 2012 and as a lesson in civics and the power of language (and this being "Q week" in Round 11 of the abcwednesday meme), I thought we'd have some fun with famous, funny, quirky quotes by Dan Quayle and a few of his colleagues. 
For my younger and/or international readers who may not remember Dan Quayle, James Danforth Quayle was the 44th Vice President of the United States serving under President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993). He served as a U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator from the state of Indiana. Throughout his tenure as Vice President, Quayle was considered an 'intellectual lightweight' in part as a result of his tendency to make public statements that were either self-contradictory, confused, or impossible. In April 1999, Quayle announced his candidacy for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. In August 1999 he finished eighth in the Ames Straw Poll and withdrew the following month, announcing his support for George W. Bush. He then joined Cerberus Capital Management  and is chairman of their Global Investments division.

While we love making fun of so many of the "Quayleisms" below, they are a wonderful exercise in the power of language and in the power of being human.  All too often we forget the pressures our public figures are under while enjoying some fun at their expense.

For teachers and parents: read and enjoy the quotes below and discuss them with your kids/students.  Talk about what is so funny about them and edit them, noting where he made his mistake.  This can be not only a lesson in life and politics, but in the power of communication, the power of language use, and the power of good editing! As a parent and teacher I have found getting my kids to edit to be one of the more challenging feats I've had to master.  This may help make editing 'real'.

Dan Quale quotes:
  • "I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican".
  • "I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the Future."
  • "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'." (12/6/89)
  • "The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history...No, not our nation's but in World War II. I mean, we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century, but in this century's history."
  • When addressing the United Negro College Fund (whose slogan was "A mind is a terrible thing to waste"), Quayle said, "You take the UNCF model that was a waste it is to lose on'es mind or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."
  • During his tenure as Vice President, Bush announced the Space Exploration Initiative which included a manned landing on Mars.  Quayle made the the following comments:" Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
  • "Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children." (9/18/90)
  • "We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur." (9/22/90)
  • "I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix."
  • "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."
  • "It's wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago."
  • "This President is going to lead us out of this recovery."
  • "When you make as many speeches and you talk as much as I do and you get away from the text, it's always a possibility to get a few words tangled here and there."
If you have the time, here is a YouTube clip of Quayle 'musing' about the future. The quality is not great but the content is just wonderful:
Note though, that the Republicans and Dan Quayle did not corner the market on cooky, quirky quotes.  Vice President Joe Biden has had some gaffes as well:
  • "Folks, I can tell you I've known eight Presidents, three of them intimately (8/22/2012)
  • "My mother believed and my father belived that if I wanted to be president of the United States, I could be, I could be Vice President. (Youngstown, Ohio 5/16/2012)
  • "His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so. God rest her soul. And- although she's - wait your mom's till - you mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul" (3/17/2010 on the mother of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who is still alive)
  • "I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now...When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway." (4/30/2009 on The Today Show, providing tips to protect against swine flu).
  • "You know. I'm embarrassed. Do you know the Web sit number? I should have it in front of me and I' don't..." (2/25/2009  speaking aide standing out of view during an interview on CBS' Early Show while encouraging viewers to visit a government Web site that tracks stimulus spending).
  • "If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30% chance we're going to get it wrong." (2/6/2009 speaking to members of the House Democratic caucus in Williamsburg, VA)
  • "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look here's what happened." (11/22/2008 in an interview with Katie Couric unaware that FDR wasn't President when the stock market crashed in 1929 OR that only experimental television sets were in use at that time)

And one more collection of bloopers from the Senate and White House over the past few years:

We all make gaffes and those in public service have the unfortunate luck of having them captured and replayed over and over again. Thank you to all our public servants.

So with smiles on your faces, I wish us all luck in electing our next U.S. President and Vice President.

Thank you to Talia Hurwich for this idea, and thanks to all of you for you visits.  Please leave your own favorite gaffes in the comments and don't forget to vote.


  1. Found you on the hop. New follower. I'd love if you stopped by my page

  2. I'm your newest follower from Monday blog hop, would love for you to stop by and follow back :)

  3. Too funny and just in time for election day! Thanks for linking up for Mommy Moments Blog Hop!

  4. I'm one of your newest followers from the GFC BLOG HOP. You can follow me back at

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  6. Hi, I'm a new follower from the mom's mingle. I like the depth of your blog. :D
    Katie @

  7. That was a MOUTH FULL! Enjoyed the read.

  8. My favorite Quayle bit is when he corrected some young man how to spell a tuber. the kid wrote potato, Quayle said "almost" and corrected to potatoe.

  9. I know that one! He claims he was reading the cue cards and while he thought they were not correct, he read them anyway. Either way you look at it, it was a super gaffe!

  10. New follower from Tuesday Train. These cracked me up! I remember most of them. I will never forget when Quayle spelled tomato incorrectly.


  11. This is absolutely the best post for the letter Q.
    Thank you for the smiles today.

  12. Thank you Meryl! That was very funny! Some of the quotes are hilarious, unbelievable!

  13. New follower here! Hope you will visit and follow me back! Teresa from

  14. Ahhh,Dan Quayle, at least he made politics entertaining in a sad clown sort of way!

  15. Ordinary Words...Nicely done with a light tired of the heavy handled (hand led?) bashing that's been cornering the airwaves♫♪

  16. The one about Latin and Latin America was a shocker to me. How do such people get into politics! Maybe he was joking??!!

  17. :) This was a riot! So funny :)

  18. This was an hysterical post. I remember some of these but some were ones I'd forgotten. The one about a mind is a terrible thing to waste and Quayles version reminds me of one of G.W. Bush quotes, his was "the mind is a terrible thing" speaking to teachers or something like that. Carver, ABC -Wed. Team

  19. Are there any statesman in American politics? Kate, ABC Team

  20. Boy am I glad silly things I've said aren't quoted. I'd hate for others to relive those moments and laugh at my expense. But it's ok to do it to Dan Quayle lol.

    Happy Election Day/Wordless Wednesday :)


    1. Thanks for a fun post.

  21. Thanks for the giggles this morning, I needed them!

  22. Hahaha sleeping in front of the camera, just so funny and embarrassing.

    Would you mind pitching an answer?

  23. These are funny! The Quayle ones are especially ridiculous.

  24. I was a bit too young to appreciate those gaffs at the time, so thank you for bringing them back to our attention so I could have a great laugh this morning!

  25. LOL. I'd forgotten how amusing Mr. Quayle actually was, though I usually just felt sorry for him. It's true that we all say things we'd hate to see recorded and broadcast in perpetuity, but I'd like to think nothing I've said is *quite* that cringe-worthy. ;-)

  26. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Wishing you a happy weekend. xo

  27. Thanks for the laughs! It's true, when you talk as much as they do publicly, you're bound to get a few words "tangled" here and there! When I was a teenager, my dad told the story of being in a class of just military guys with a woman speaker who was talking about organisms, but occasionally slipped and said orgasms. :D


  28. Oh thanks for this walk down memory lane. I had forgotten how humorous many of his speeches were.