HOUSTON -- Dan Quayle would not lower himself.
Dan Quayle, our national punching bag, would not say of the Democrats what they say of him.
And just what do they say of him?
"If ignorance ever goes to $30 a barrel, I want drilling rights to Dan Quayle's head!" That's what they say of him.
But on the day Dan Quayle arrived at the Republican National Convention, he would not stoop to their level.
This is the worst he would say of the top of the Democratic ticket:
"We need a man who governs by conscience and principle and not public opinion polls! The question is: Who do you trust? And the answer is easy: George Bush!"
See what I mean? Highroad stuff. Just like the president ordered.
George Bush has said he will not campaign on "sleaze" and neither will his vice president.
Nope, they will leave that to the free enterprise system.
Which is why the American Spirit Pavilion, attached to the Astrodome, where they are having the convention, is meaner than a junkyard dog.
There is booth after booth selling posters, t-shirts, buttons and badges that have no reluctance to get down and dirty.
Take the movie poster featuring a big picture of Bill Clinton and smaller pictures of Hillary Clinton and Gennifer Flowers.
The poster says: "SLICK WILLIE, One Man's Story of Saying Whatever It Takes To Get Elected!
"Hillary Clinton as Tammy Wynette. Gennifer Flowers as The Bimbo.
RTC "He'll Do To America What He Did to Arkansas. He Won't Inhale.
"He Won't Take Us To War . . . Because He Wouldn't Go Himself.
"Ted Kennedy as His Chaperone. Mario Cuomo as The Godfather.
"Don't Miss The Sequel: Girls, Girls, Girls!
"Screenplay by George McGovern. Based on the Book By Gloria Steinem. Music by Sister Souljah. Performed by Ice-T. Featuring Jesse Jackson as The Rapper. Al Gore as The Tree Hugger.
"Paul Tsongas as Elmer Fudd. Jerry Brown as Governor Moonbeam. Special Appearances by Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Arsenio Hall, The Hippies, The Yippies, Hispanic Gay Lesbians Against Racism, Committee to Save the Gay Whales, ACTUP, Earth First!, University of Arkansas ROTC Unit.
"Rated: R--Ridiculous. Taxpayers Beware."
Joanne Reed, 24, of Richmond, Va., a sweet-faced mother of two with another on the way and a self-described housewife, dreamed up this poster. And she doesn't think it's one bit mean.
"I got the idea from Clinton himself!" she said. "I just quoted the things he has said!"
Aww, c'mon, Joanne.
"Well," she said, "I guess I did take it all the way."
Over at the Sebastian County, Ark., booth there is a t-shirt that says:
"Gennifer Flowers . . . Not!
"Dodge the Draft . . . Not!
"Smoke Dope (Inhale)..Not!
"Eat Hillary's Cookies . . . Not!"
Candi Sue Russell, who is president of the Republican Women's Club of Sebastian County (largest city: Fort Dodge, the second largest city in Arkansas) came up with this t-shirt.
And though it costs a whopping $25, she sold 60 of them in the first two hours the doors to the pavilion were open.
"I only printed up 144 of them, and I am really sorry I didn't do more," she said. 'We know Bill Clinton best. He is a tax-and-spend governor. We don't want him to do to the nation what he did to Arkansas!"
Cut out the serious junk, Cindi. Just give us some more mean stuff.
"Well, how about this," she said, pointing to a button on her blouse.
The button said: "Smile If You Had An Affair with Bill Clinton."
We were careful to keep a straight face.