For the moment, it looks like the Bush-Quayle ticket has survived the no-holds-barred investigation into Senator Quayle's personal life that threatened to blow up their campaign. The National Guard issue is not nearly enough to drive a wedge between Bush and Quayle, especially as it becomes clearer that so many political figures of both parties — or their sons -- served in National Guard or reserve units during the Vietnam war. The Democrats are showing no interest in keeping this aspect of the Quayle story alive. It was our assumption that such a wedge might be new revelations about the Paula Parkinson sex scandal of the early 1980s, based on accounts broadcast at a small New Orleans dinner party last week by a former White House political operative. Reporters who subsequently grilled the man about his assertions found him backing away completely, saying yes there were multiple golf trips involving Parkinson, but Quayle was only at one of them. It doesn't help that the other dinner guests remember him saying otherwise. It's the source's veracity that must be thoroughly discounted on this matter, not Quayle's. As subsequent news accounts also make clear, the rumored DePauw professor who was supposed to testify about a Quayle plagiarism has also failed to materialize, or, like our former White House political insider, had to back down from bombastic assertions when asked to supply evidence.
Now assuming the best, no new revelations, Quayle is likely to be much less a burden to the ticket. Oddly enough, George Bush now seems a much more appealing figure for having stood by Quayle so solidly, accentuating a father-son relationship, a la Ike and Dick ("That's my boy") after the 1952 "Checkers speech." There is by now nobody on the planet who hasn't agreed that Bush's acceptance speech in New Orleans was The Best of His Political Life, all the more impressive in that he delivered it as the Quayle controversy was exploding around him. The "wimp image" has suddenly been suspended and the new story is Bush's sudden rise in stature. Bush's astonishing turnaround in the polls indicates he actually benefited from the controversy.