So Quayle is a klutz -- is that such a bad thing?

Mike Royko

July 27, 1992|By Mike Royko

The rumormongers in Washington have been spreading the story that President Bush might dump Dan Quayle. But Bush has put an end to that malicious talk by flatly saying he's not going to do it.

And that's good news. For one thing, it shows that Bush is not going to be swayed by polls.

In Quayle's case, some polls currently show that 63 percent of Americans think he's kind of a klutz. That's why some Republicans think he should be dumped.

But Bush knows that polls can go up as fast as they go down. So all it would take is for Quayle to do something like spelling "potato" and "tomato" correctly, and his klutz rating could drop to a more acceptable 62 percent.

And it also shows that Bush, whatever shortcomings he has, still believes in the old-fashioned virtue of loyalty. Sure, Quayle might not be the smartest guy in the world. He might not be the smartest guy in Washington. Or the smartest guy on his block.

Or not even the smartest guy at his golf club. Maybe not even the smartest guy in his golf foursome. Or in his golf cart. Possibly not even the smartest if he's all alone on the course, except for a caddy. Some caddies are bright kids, you know.

But Bush picked him four years ago, saying he was the very best person for the job of vice president. That's really something, if you think about it. There are more than 250 million Americans. But out of that crowd, Quayle stood out. What a haystack. What a needle. So let the polls say people think he's a klutz. Bush has the strength and loyalty to respond: "Yes, maybe he is a klutz. But he is our klutz." You just don't find that kind of loyalty anymore.

Besides, have we turned into such a callous society that we believe people should be tossed aside merely because they are klutzes? Aren't we still a symbol, a beacon to the world, because we reach out and embrace people of all races, creeds, origins, the poor, the wretched, the tall, the short, the blond, the swarthy, the bald, the hairy. So why not the klutzy? Nowhere on that plaque on the Statue of Liberty does it say: "But don't send me your klutzy."

Remember, klutzes have been part of this nation's history since the very beginning. Do you think that there weren't any klutzes on Christopher Columbus' boats? You can bet there were. What kind of guys would agree to go sailing off into uncharted waters with a captain who wore women's hats and said he wanted to look for a shortcut to a place so he could pick up a load of allspice cheap?

You can also look at those polls another way. Yes, 63 percent might think Quayle is a klutz. But at any given moment, 63 percent of all Americans think just about everybody is a klutz, except maybe their favorite lewd rock star.

If you took a poll of 1,000 married women, at least 63 percent would admit that they think their husbands are klutzes some of the time. And the same number of men would think their wives are klutzes, too. Or maybe the correct word is klutzettes.

Put this question to the employees of General Motors or any other big American corporation: Is the president of your company a klutz? It would be an overwhelming: "Yes, and an overpaid klutz at that."

Stop 1,000 people on the street and ask: "What is the name of your congressman?" The majority would say: "I don't know." Especially the klutzes. Then ask: "Is he a klutz?" Almost all, including the klutzes, would say: "Absolutely."

And you can flip-flop the Quayle poll. Yes, 63 percent think he's a klutz. But that means 37 percent don't believe he's a klutz, or don't care if he's a klutz, or feel affection for klutzes.

If this poll is meant to reflect society's views, that 37 percent represents a lot of people: about 80 or 90 million. That's a very big and strong pro-klutz bloc. And it isn't something Republican politicians should overlook, not that they ever have.

It may be that some of that 37 percent are klutzes themselves. Or have klutzes among their loved ones. Or are simply fair-minded sorts who believe that it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of their klutziness, and who can quarrel with that?

This might even be something Congress should consider the next time it deals with fair-hiring practices: a klutz quota.

They wouldn't have to worry about a veto from Bush.

Tribune Media Services

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