Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Quote: Vice-President Dan Quayle once said, "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."
Origins: When George Bush, the 1988 Republican nominee for President, announced his vice-presidential running mate, he took nearly everyone by surprise. The man Bush tapped, a young senator named Dan Quayle, was little known outside his home state of Indiana. Senator Quayle soon became a household name, but — much to the chagrin of Bush and the Republicans — not for the reasons they expected. Dan Quayle soon proved himself to be a terrible public speaker: he appeared nervous (even frightened) in front of television cameras, he often fumbled his way through prepared speeches, and his extemporaneous comments frequently defied comprehension. Senator (and, after the election, Vice-President) Quayle and his gaffes soon became the butt of numerous jokes. Just as President Gerald Ford had been forevermore tagged a clumsy bumbler after a few physical mishaps a decade earlier, so Dan Quayle was characterized as "stupid" by the public and the media, a label that would prove impossible to remove once it had been
With much of the media gleefully reporting every Quayle misstatement and malaprop, it was only a matter of time before demand exceeded supply and someone made up a ridiculous statement and attributed it to the Vice-President. Someone did, and this someone was a rather unlikely source: a Republican congressperson.
In April 1989, Representative Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island told a gathering of Republicans that she had recently attended an event at the Belgian embassy, where Vice-President Quayle complimented her on her command of French. Then, Schneider said, the Vice-President added: "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."
Dan Quayle has certainly made more than his share of misstatements, and most of the ones on the following list are actual Quayle quotes (although versions of this list with all the quotes mischievously attributed to Vice-President Al Gore and Texas governor George W. Bush also circulate around the Internet). Nearly all of these quotes are reasonable statements that came out garbled when uttered by a poor public speaker, though — it's not hard to tell in most cases what Quayle really meant to say. Compare them to some of the bizarre statements that President Reagan produced when speaking off the cuff, or the twisted, mangled syntax characteristic of President Bush's speech. Let's be fair to
QuickTime video of Dan Quayle in action
Last updated: 25 September 2007
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