THERE is a simple solution to the controversy over the war records of Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle. The two are accused of having used political influence to stay out of the hostilities in Indochina.
The way to solve it is that instead of debating the issue over and over again in some clammy network studio, both Clinton and Quayle should go to Vietnam, in full uniform, and show the American public if they really have the right stuff.
The plan would be to take the two men into the mountains around Khe San and assign each one a hill to capture. They would do this alone without aid from the Green Berets or the 82nd Airborne.
To make sure the public witnessed the action CNN would cover it live.
Before going into battle each man would have a half-hour on the Larry King show to profess his patriotism for the United States and his love of the military.
I know some people are saying, "Isn't it a little late to go to Vietnam?" The answer is obvious to anyone running for public office: "Better late than never."
To make sure that the idea was viable I made some telephone calls.
The first one was to Hanoi asking if they had any objection to Clinton and Quayle coming over and taking a few hills to help them in the presidential campaign.
The official wanted to know if I was out of my blinkin' mind. He said, "If they were chicken then, we don't want them now."
I told him, "Our election depends on it. You must allow them in."
"Because you owe us. You have a lot of hills. All we're asking is that you let Quayle and Clinton take two of them."
"OK, but we don't want you to start making a habit of this every time you hold an election."
I then called Gov. Clinton's top aide. "Good news. I've fixed it so that the governor can still go to Vietnam."
"Gov. Clinton doesn't believe in the war."
"Nobody does, but it has become a campaign issue and the only way you can deal with it is to have him go over and hang a coonskin on the wall."
"Has Quayle agreed to this?" Clinton's man asked.
"I've got a call into him right now. Anyone who won his battle stars in Indianapolis should be dying to visit Saigon."
"If he goes, then our man will go."
I called the Quayle brain trust. "Is Quayle willing to go to Vietnam and take a hill to prove that he's not a coward?"
"That's a hypothetical question."
"It's not hypothetical. It's all laid on. The Vietnamese say that it's OK with them, providing that Clinton and Quayle leave the hills the way they found them."
"Will there be any Vietnamese opposition?"
"Not much. Just enough to prove that both candidates are willing to fight for their country."
The Quayle staffer said, "You know, the Vice President was in public relations in the National Guard. He doesn't know too much about taking hills."
I responded, "America will match one National Guard PR man against 10 Viet Cong any day of the week."