Eight years later, in 1988, George H.W. Bush picked Quayle as his running mate. Quayle’s deer-in-the-headlights expression, his un-vice-presidential exuberance — punching the air with his fist during his debut at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans and urging Bush, then 64, to “Go get ’em” — remained forever fixed in the public’s mind.

Bush was trying to highlight a generational shift — the Greatest Generation backed up by a baby boomer. But the press insisted on comparing Bush — the youngest pilot in the Navy, shot down in the Pacific — to Quayle — recipient, allegedly, of special treatment that landed him in the Indiana Army National Guard.

What’s lost is that Quayle was, at the time of his selection, a perfectly respectable, even respected, senator. With his seat on the Armed Services Committee, he was considered something of a comer on international policy. He should have stayed put.
He never recovered from his most famous gaffe — committed at an elementary school spelling bee, when he misspelled the word potato. (The student spelled it correctly; Quayle, looking at a flash card prepared by a teacher, insisted that the word ended in E.)

When candidate Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS blocking private charter flights to Cuba Biden, Harris to address Democratic convention from Chase Center in Delaware Kamala Harris is now under the protection of Secret Service: report MORE, campaigning in Oregon, said that “over the last 15 months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in 57 states? I think one left to go,” the flub never gained traction because Obama seemed smart and Quayle, out of the private club also known as the U.S. Senate, seemed dumb. (Then again, Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to host virtual Hollywood campaign event co-chaired by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling Trump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn US seizes four vessels loaded with Iranian fuel MORE survived his double blooper. He told CBS’s Katie Couric in September 2008 that when the stock market crashed in 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a televised fireside chat to calm the nation’s nerves.)

Before Evan Bayh announced his exit from the Senate, former Indiana Republican Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down MORE announced that he intended to challenge Bayh in the general election in November. One would have imagined there’d be some speculation — if only for politeness’ sake — that Quayle might jump into the race. If there was any, I didn’t hear it.

That got me thinking about other recent vice presidents — Jimmy Carter’s one-termer Walter Mondale became ambassador to Japan; Reagan’s vice president became president; Clinton’s vice president, Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Willie Brown now pleased Harris accepted Biden offer after advising against it Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause MORE, became the voice of global warming and won the Nobel Peace Prize; Bush II’s vice president, Dick Cheney, became the tribune or the scold — depending on your politics — of Obama’s alleged mishandling of national security; and Dan Quayle, who lives with his wife, Marilyn, in Paradise Valley, Ariz., became ... what? A man with a lot of time on his hands to play golf. (He is chairman of a private equity firm and president of Quayle and Associates.)

Then again, Quayle was really good at golf. When rumors surfaced just before the 1988 election about Quayle and another woman having sex during a golf outing, Marilyn Quayle, tougher, more articulate, more suited, I thought, to be vice president than her husband ever was, told reporters, “Anybody who knows Dan Quayle knows he would rather play golf than have sex, any day.”