Senator, you're no Dan Quayle

Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if Dan Quayle had ever claimed that electing Bush 41 in 1988 or 1992 would lead to paralyzed Americans getting out of wheelchairs and walking? The media and late—night comics nearly gave themselves aneurysms when Quayle made a spelling error and made hay out of it for months. Yet when John Edwards acts like a bagman for Benny Hinn Ministries and promises that he and John Kerry will heal the sick and that the lame will walk again, the braying donkeys in the media suddenly yawn and go to sleep.

If this 2004 presidential campaign has revealed anything, it is that the media have shed even the veiled appearance of objectivity in the way they not only cover the campaign, but no longer mask even its naked attempts to influence the election itself, the most flagrant violation being the Dan Rather flap at CBS. Legitimate journalism schools (i.e. not Columbia) could rightly use this campaign as a primer for students on how not to practice the 'craft' of journalism.

Yet for all of the ridiculousness and resulting criticism the media have generated, another aspect of the mainstream media's coverage deserves some scrutiny, and that is the free pass it has allowed Edwards. Perhaps the media feel that the former trial lawyer was vetted during his presidential campaign earlier this year, but that's not the case at all.

It would be nice if one of the esteemed debate moderators could ask Kerry — just once — what it is he thinks qualifies Edwards to be President. Kerry has not been asked about Edwards at all during the presidential debates. Nobody has questioned Kerry in the same manner reporter John Mashek, then of the Atlanta Journal—Constitution queried then Vice President George Bush about the qualifications of Quayle in 1988, invoking 'reservations' among Democrats and Republicans about Quayle's credentials to sit a heartbeat away form the presidency.

Edwards should be getting the Quayle treatment this election cycle, though comparing Edwards to Quayle is probably giving the North Carolinian too much credit. As we know, Edwards was elected to the Senate in 1998 after a successful career as a plaintiffs' attorney, winning enormous sums of money for himself and his clients with such learned trial law techniques as channeling the voice of a dead little girl. My attorney sister says she must have been absent the day this trial strategy was taught in law school.

Even Edwards' official Senate website can only cite one major piece of legislation — the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 — that Edwards has been a major co—sponsor. Edwards serves on four committees, only one of which (Intelligence) deals with the major responsibilities of the executive branch, namely defense and commanding the armed forces. He demonstrated a frightening lack of knowledge about foreign policy legislation during the Democratic primary debates, and now echoes Kerry's even scarier global test requirements that must be passed before we engage militarily.

By contrast, Quayle was first elected to the U.S. House at 29, and then to the Senate at 33, knocking off three—term Indiana senator Birch Bayh in the process. In 1986, Quayle was reelected to his Senate seat with the largest victory margin to that point in Hoosier history. In the Senate, Quayle concentrated his work on the Armed Services Committee and the Budget Committee and won plaudits for his bipartisan work and authorship of the Job Training Partnership Act. Given all of this, it's fairly easy to say Quayle was much more qualified for the presidency than Edwards is now. Merely tramping through the snows of New Hampshire and the fields of Iowa does not constitute a major qualification to be Commander—in—Chief.

The media had a field day in 1988 following the lead of Sen. Lloyd Bensten, mocking Quayle for being a JFK—wannabe, yet it is difficult to think of anyone from the major networks, New York Times, or anyone else pointing out that Edwards is a flagrant RFK—wannabe. All Quayle did was point out Kennedy's salient argument that there is no tried and true road to the presidency after being asked about his lack of experience during his debate with Bensten. Edwards purposely combs his hair to betray a forelock like Bobby's, chops at the air with a thumb on the stump, and jabbers on about 'two Americas' to the point of annoyance. It's a wonder Edwards hasn't tried to affect a high—pitched Massachusetts accent to replace his southern drawl.

With all that has happened in the media over the last few years, it is no surprise that Edwards has not been ridiculed as Quayle was mocked, or that Kerry has not had to repeatedly answer for his astonishing lack of judgment and shallow kowtowing to the polls in naming Edwards as his running mate. Still, it grates. Quayle got a raw deal from the media, but that same harsh glare should have been trained on Edwards. Even though it would still ring hollow, the media cries that they are objective might sound a tad more plausible.

Matthew May is a freelance writer and can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com

Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if Dan Quayle had ever claimed that electing Bush 41 in 1988 or 1992 would lead to paralyzed Americans getting out of wheelchairs and walking? The media and late—night comics nearly gave themselves aneurysms when Quayle made a spelling error and made hay out of it for months. Yet when John Edwards acts like a bagman for Benny Hinn Ministries and promises that he and John Kerry will heal the sick and that the lame will walk again, the braying donkeys in the media suddenly yawn and go to sleep.

If this 2004 presidential campaign has revealed anything, it is that the media have shed even the veiled appearance of objectivity in the way they not only cover the campaign, but no longer mask even its naked attempts to influence the election itself, the most flagrant violation being the Dan Rather flap at CBS. Legitimate journalism schools (i.e. not Columbia) could rightly use this campaign as a primer for students on how not to practice the 'craft' of journalism.

Yet for all of the ridiculousness and resulting criticism the media have generated, another aspect of the mainstream media's coverage deserves some scrutiny, and that is the free pass it has allowed Edwards. Perhaps the media feel that the former trial lawyer was vetted during his presidential campaign earlier this year, but that's not the case at all.

It would be nice if one of the esteemed debate moderators could ask Kerry — just once — what it is he thinks qualifies Edwards to be President. Kerry has not been asked about Edwards at all during the presidential debates. Nobody has questioned Kerry in the same manner reporter John Mashek, then of the Atlanta Journal—Constitution queried then Vice President George Bush about the qualifications of Quayle in 1988, invoking 'reservations' among Democrats and Republicans about Quayle's credentials to sit a heartbeat away form the presidency.

Edwards should be getting the Quayle treatment this election cycle, though comparing Edwards to Quayle is probably giving the North Carolinian too much credit. As we know, Edwards was elected to the Senate in 1998 after a successful career as a plaintiffs' attorney, winning enormous sums of money for himself and his clients with such learned trial law techniques as channeling the voice of a dead little girl. My attorney sister says she must have been absent the day this trial strategy was taught in law school.

Even Edwards' official Senate website can only cite one major piece of legislation — the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 — that Edwards has been a major co—sponsor. Edwards serves on four committees, only one of which (Intelligence) deals with the major responsibilities of the executive branch, namely defense and commanding the armed forces. He demonstrated a frightening lack of knowledge about foreign policy legislation during the Democratic primary debates, and now echoes Kerry's even scarier global test requirements that must be passed before we engage militarily.

By contrast, Quayle was first elected to the U.S. House at 29, and then to the Senate at 33, knocking off three—term Indiana senator Birch Bayh in the process. In 1986, Quayle was reelected to his Senate seat with the largest victory margin to that point in Hoosier history. In the Senate, Quayle concentrated his work on the Armed Services Committee and the Budget Committee and won plaudits for his bipartisan work and authorship of the Job Training Partnership Act. Given all of this, it's fairly easy to say Quayle was much more qualified for the presidency than Edwards is now. Merely tramping through the snows of New Hampshire and the fields of Iowa does not constitute a major qualification to be Commander—in—Chief.

The media had a field day in 1988 following the lead of Sen. Lloyd Bensten, mocking Quayle for being a JFK—wannabe, yet it is difficult to think of anyone from the major networks, New York Times, or anyone else pointing out that Edwards is a flagrant RFK—wannabe. All Quayle did was point out Kennedy's salient argument that there is no tried and true road to the presidency after being asked about his lack of experience during his debate with Bensten. Edwards purposely combs his hair to betray a forelock like Bobby's, chops at the air with a thumb on the stump, and jabbers on about 'two Americas' to the point of annoyance. It's a wonder Edwards hasn't tried to affect a high—pitched Massachusetts accent to replace his southern drawl.

With all that has happened in the media over the last few years, it is no surprise that Edwards has not been ridiculed as Quayle was mocked, or that Kerry has not had to repeatedly answer for his astonishing lack of judgment and shallow kowtowing to the polls in naming Edwards as his running mate. Still, it grates. Quayle got a raw deal from the media, but that same harsh glare should have been trained on Edwards. Even though it would still ring hollow, the media cries that they are objective might sound a tad more plausible.

Matthew May is a freelance writer and can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com