Children of politicians are off-limits. They find themselves in a world not of their own making, but have to stumble through it. Yet a child is only a child. So, children of politicians are off-limits.
That's why it's with trepidation that I carefully address the child of a politician. One of the exceptions who have been thrust into the precarious, but legitimate stream of national attention.
The child of Dan Quayle, named Ben, is running for United States Congress. Children rebel in so many different, risky ways. Some children bungee jump. Others drive fast without seatbelts. Young Ben, at the tender age of just 33, has basically chosen to skydive without a parachute. With zero experience in politics, the lad has only one qualification going for him. His last name.
Mind you, that qualification might hold more weight if his father's one term as vice president wasn't known for three images. And three images only: 1) misspelling the word, "potato" and being corrected by a 12-year-old, 2) criticizing the morals of a fictional TV character, Murphy Brown, and 3) receiving the most famous smack-down in political debate history, when Mr. Quayle's opponent, Lloyd Bentsen, corrected him, "I knew Jack Kennedy -- and you are no Jack Kennedy"
That's Dan Quayle's legacy. And that "legacy" is the one and only qualification that Ben Quayle has. It's so fitting.
Years ago, the TV host Art Linkletter had a program called Kids Say the Darnedest Things. It's as true today as then. That's why it when the child of Dan Quayle, of all people, states in his TV ad that Barack Obama is "The Worst President in History," it's almost an adorable thing to hear him say. Staring so adult-like into the camera, and letting those be the very firstest words out of his mouth. You almost expect him to cross his arms, pout and stomp his foot.
In a way, he sort of does. Because what he next says is, "I love Arizona. I was raised right." Unfortunately, what he wasn't "raised" is in Arizona. However, he did move to the state he's trying to sell as his heart and birthright a bit over two years ago. But when you don't have any political experience at all to sell and are just running on your dad's name, having two years of anything is a lot.
In fact, Ben has nothing to sell. Consider that in a previous ad, Ben explained about his family's love of Arizona, but the two kids he was romping with weren't his. They were his brother's. But then, hey, sometimes kids not only say the darnedest things, they do the darnedest things, too. What child doesn't tell a wee, little "exaggeration" when caught with their hand in the cookie jar?
Ben Quayle does have a website, though. Most kids do today. And on it, he tells all about himself. He was born in Indiana, went to high school in Washington D.C., college in North Carolina and law school in Tennessee. He then passed the bar in California, where he worked until moving to New York. Arizona is apparently in there somewhere, though Ben makes it hard to figure. But you know how kids these days keep to themselves.
What's also cool on Ben's website is seeing where his life passion has been. In California, he did commercial litigation, and then decided "to pursue a career as a corporate lawyer," practicing "in the area of securities and mergers and acquisitions for a large law firm in New York."
Sure, there's nothing about the Arizona he loves, or even related to politics -- legal advisor, running for city council, library board, anything. But being a Wall Street lawyer in the very field that's helped destroy the American economy does show his rambunctious side.
And that rambunctious side is precisely why young Ben swaggers in his TV ad that he wants to be elected a real U.S. Congressman, so's he can "knock the hell out of Washington."
He's quite a pistol, that Ben Quayle.
"My generation will inherit a weakened country," he complains in his ad. Sure, he leaves out the reasons - that the country was attacked, the economy collapsed, the national debit doubled, civil liberties were trampled, and New Orleans was wiped off the map, all during George Bush's administration. But you can't expect a kid to know everything. So, the best problems he can come up with are -
"Drug cartels in Mexico, tax cartels in D.C."
Yes, I know. The words are a meaningless jumble, a kid trying to sound adult - after all, wouldn't conservatives support tax cartels? But then, since he was in mergers and acquisitions, he should know. It doesn't make any sense, but boys will be boys.
In the end, why does Dan Quayle's son think he should be elected to the United States Congress from Arizona, after a lifetime not doing anything related to politics, or spending much time in Arizona.
"Ben has been around politics for a long time," Hugh Hewitt tells us, on Ben's website. "And he is the next generation that we need to be sending to Congress."
Yes, of course, "He's been around politics" usually means "he's done a lot of things politically." But in Ben's case, it's literally "around" politics. His dad was vice-president. Vote for Ben!
Ben Quayle: New Generation, Same Old Emptiness.
UPDATED: The word "born" has been corrected to "raised" in one of the ad quotes.