Wednesday, May 24, 2006


From Bill in Portland Maine at Kos, last year's winner of "Survivor: Funny Blog," we get Lloyd Bentsen's response to Dan Quayle in their infamous 1988 vice-presidential debate:

Quayle: I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.

Judy Woodruff: Senator Bentsen.

Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy...

Quayle: That was really uncalled for, Senator.

Bentsen: You are the one that was making the comparison, Senator---and I'm one who knew him well. And frankly I think you are so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well-taken.

Everyone remembers, at least those of us over 30, uh, 50, the first part of the exchange, but what I think is most relevant to today's Dems is the second response. Quayle was blowing the pure Repub BS that was still bold and new in those days, and Bentsen hit him with the JFK retort we recall. But then, like Repubs today on those rare occasions when Dems respond effectively, Quayle plays the "you're not being civil" card. Did Bentsen pull back as the Broders and Matthews shriek at them to? No, he lowered the boom harder.

How on earth could he ever recover from such despicable behavior? Surely that's what made the ticket lose in 1988, not those oh-so-civil Willie Horton commercials and ACLU as traitors memes.

Except . . . read the obits over the last couple of days. The man went out with the dignity and respect accorded to those who actually accomplish things and give service to their nations and communities.