I’ve always kind of liked Dan Quayle. In his own quirky, hiya neighbor sort of way, he was charming.
Quayle always struck me as the guy who just happened to walk into the room when Daddy George Bush needed a veep. “What about him? ” I imagined GOP handlers asking in a last ditch effort to find someone, anyone. Pretty much like Sarah Palin with no moose, gun or view of Alaska. At his best, he was cute enough, and the best public distraction from the business of world domination and subterfuge Daddy Bush and Dick Cheney (that one who thought he was shooting a moose but shot a man) engaged in.
Every now and again, Quayle will emerge to speak his mind and slip quietly back into his non-political world. On Sunday, the former vice-president wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post (Don’t let the tea party go Perot) and I suddenly forgot the potato gaffe and the rest of his blunders. It became quite apparent to me that he is the Republican President Obama could work with in a bipartisan administration. He is also the guy the Republicans should listen to if they want to regain the White House. If they want to regain the White House. (Do they?)
In the Washington Post, Quayle wrote:
So successful is the tea party movement that there is speculation it might launch a political party. Though nearly three-quarters of tea party supporters identify themselves as Republicans, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 40 percent of them are open to voting for a third-party candidate of their own.
There it is. Quayle is telling GOP loyalists to denounce the tea party with a quickness yet pay close attention to their frustrations. In his opinion piece, Quayle reminds the reader of what (or who) happened to Daddy Bush’s unsuccessful bid for a second term as president. H. Ross Perot. Perot’s Reform Party was the result of a grassroots movement much like the tea party, and every bit as attractive to an American voter who didn’t see their needs addressed by the Republicans or Democrats. And as a cautionary tale, Quayle states,
What started as a grass-roots phenomenon ended with 19 percent support at the ballot box — and a majority of those voters would probably have gone Republican in a two-party race. Speaking on behalf of the Bush-Quayle campaign, to this day we firmly believe that Perot cost the Republican Party the White House. The 1992 election was the best showing for the movement Perot started, and whatever national influence it retained kept working to the benefit of Democrats.
Is the tea party working to the benefit of the Obama administration? Is their ever-growing presence a threat to Mr. Obama’s chances at a second term? According to Dan Quayle, yes they are a benefit and no they are not a threat to anything but two-party politics and the Republican party. Does that mean President Obama can relax?
No. Dan Quayle isn’t quite saying, Barack, you got this. He is offering his party a commonsense strategy to regaining their power. If they’ll listen.
The movement has enlisted Americans of every background in political activism, some for the first time, and it appeals to citizens on the strength of ideas rather than party affiliation.
If not, I hope President Obama is.