Look out Mario, Dan Quayle is out to get you

Mike Royko

February 07, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

Until recently, I couldn't think of anything that Dan Quayle and I might agree on.

Actually, there has;been something. We both believe that playing golf beats working. But unlike that;fortunate lad, I lack a government jet to whisk me to distant country clubs,;millionaire hosts to toss $100 bills at our caddies, and Secret Service agents;to clear away the sluggish foursome ahead.

But that's nitpicking. Everyone should have a hobby, and as long as Quayle doesn't have a real job, he's better off playing golf than hanging out in pool halls.

Besides, those long strolls up the fairway give him time to prepare for the explosive verbal combat tha he believes awaits him.

I'm talking about Mario Cuomo. Quayle recently caused a stir when he flatly predicted that Cuomo would wind up as the Democratic presidential candidate.

He's more confident about that then I am. I make no such prediction but merely hope the Democrats will wise up im time to select Cuomo.

It's obvious that Quayle wants Cuomo to run. Quayle has been taunting him since last summer. He makes a point of emphasing Cuomo's name:"Mario, Mario, Mario."

The unspoken message is something like: "What kind of American has a name like Marrrrio" How would it look for America to have a president named Marrrrrio"

Quayle may have a point. Besides his head, I mean. On the other hand, we've never had a president J. Danforth. And when Lincoln ran, there were those who probably said: "Abe? Hey, is this guy Jewish?"

The question is, why does Quayle want Cuomo in the race? Why has he been revving up for his campaign role as Bush's designated Cuomo-basher?

Because it is Quayle's chance to prove that beneath his bland, shallow, programmed exterior is something more than a bland, shallow programmed interior. He woud have a chance to finally shed his reputation for being nothing more than a pleasant-looking dope.

It would be an opportunity for him to match wits with Cuomo, to duel him with words and political ideology, to pit his intellect RTC against Cuomo's, to dazzle Jay Leno, "Saturday Night Live" and all the others who believe he is a ninny.

By thrashing Cuomo, Quayle will put to rest the perception that has haunted him since he became vice president: that he is a mental lightweight. (Actually, it's a perception that's been around since he was a college freshman, but not as many people noticed.)

4 But why, you might ask, does it have to be cuomo

Why can't Quayle do the same to the other Democratic aspirants?

Because he wouldn't have to. Quayle's laser-like wit and profound thoughts wouldn't be needed be cause the others would be beaten so easily.

Clinton? Yes, he is currently leading the othe Democrats in the polls. The Washington pundits say this means he has survived his embarrassing brush with the blond floozy. The nation has told the pollsters that it doesn's care what Clinton did or didn't do between the sheets with his phone pal. (Actually, the nation hasn't said this to the pollsters; a few hundred people have. But why quibble over a petty 245 million?)

Unfortunately, the words of the late George Washington Plunkett are still true, The old-time Tammany Hall Politician said: "Politics ain't beanbag". Which meant it can be a dirty, bare-knuckle game.

So next fall, thousands of Republican county chairmen, precinct workers-- anybody with a copying machine--will be unable to resist the temptation: They'll find the most embarrassing portions of Clinton's phone conversations with the bimbo, run off a stack of copies, and stuff them in the nation's mailboxes.

Is that nice? Is that fair? Of course not. But to Clinton's misfortune, the tapes are there. And he can't very well say that an imposter was having those intimate conversations with the floozy--not after he apologizes to Cuomo for what he, not an impostor, said on them.

No, those tapes will be draped around Clinton's neck like flowers on a tourist in Hawaii. The tapes and the floozy would be Bush's new Willie Horton. Bush could even piously decry and renounce such scurrilous tactis. How is he to prevent people from putting nasty pamphlets in mailboxes, for gosh sakes?

So that's why Quayle wants Cuomo out there: so he can go up against the Democrats' strongest contender, their heavyweight. And by doing so, he will prove that he, too, is a heavyweight.

And maybe he is. If he eats a truckload of bananas before the weigh-in.

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