The Quayle standard
National treasure Calvin Trillin compares former National Guardsman Dan Quayle to someone else who hid out from Vietnam.
Mr. Quayle denied receiving preferential treatment, but he didn’t quibble about what making it into the guard meant at that time. “Obviously, if you join the National Guard, you have less of a chance of going to Vietnam,” he said on “Meet the Press” some time later. “I mean, it goes without saying.” That’s presumably what Colin Powell had in mind in “My American Journey” when he wrote, “I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well placed . . . managed to wrangle spots in Reserve and National Guard units.”
But in the current furor about George W. Bush’s military record it seems to be taken for granted that Mr. Bush got into the so-called Champagne unit of the Texas Air National Guard through influence. The stories begin by saying he was jumped over a 500-man waiting list. Then they quickly go on to investigate the details of his sojourn in Alabama. Using influence to get into the guard and therefore out of Vietnam is no longer disqualifying for “sons of the powerful”; it’s assumed. Or could it be that Dan Quayle is judged by stricter standards than other politicians?