The date was June 15, 1992. In an elementary school in Trenton, New Jersey, reading off a flash card that had been prepared by the teacher, the special guest counseled the child writing potato on the blackboard, “You’re close, but you left a little something off. The ‘e’ on the end.”
The media reacted swiftly and relentlessly.
The story was on all the front pages and was carried by all the major networks.
To the mainstream media, it was the moment that Dan Quayle confirmed “what a waste it is to lose one’s mind.”
It didn’t matter that the flash card given to the vice president was prepared by a teacher and was itself misspelled. It was carried on every news wire, every news program and in every late night TV monologue.
Quayle’s mind must have been on other things. It wasn’t like he repeated the mistake in all 57 states, or more precisely in Beaverton, Ore., in May 2008; or while traveling on the “Intercontinental” railroad in Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 2011; or perhaps, while he was speaking to the “President” of Canada in Chicago on Aug. 7, 2007.
He might not have known how to say it in “Austrian” while in Strasbourg, France, on April 5, 2009; or perhaps he was thinking of “Polish Death Camps” at the White House on May 30, 2012; or thinking about when he met with world leaders in that splendid “Asian” city, Honolulu, on Nov. 16, 2011.