Having worked as a young, surrogate speaker for the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign in 1988, I still have fond and vivid memories of the Bentsen/Quayle debate.
And while Bentsen will be most remembered most for his 'You're No Jack Kennedy' smack down of the hopelessly out-gunned and out-classed Quayle, I have always thought another line delivered by the future Clinton Treasury Secretary was his best that night:
BROKAW: Senator Bentsen, you were a businessman before you entered the U.S. Senate. Let me offer you an inventory if I may: Lower interest rates, lower unemployment, lower inflation and an arms control deal with the Soviet Union. Now two guys come through your door at your business and say, "We'd like you to change," without offering a lot of specifics. Why would you accept their deal?
BENTSEN: You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity, too. (Laughter and applause) This is an administration that has more than doubled the national debt, and they've done that in less than eight years. They have taken this country from the No. 1 lender nation in the world to the No. 1 debtor nation in the world. And the interest on that debt next year, on this Reagan-Bush debt of our nation, is going to be $640 for every man, woman, and child in America because of this kind of a credit-card mentality. So we go out and we try to sell our securities every week, and hope that the foreigners will buy them. And they do buy them. But every time they do, we lose some of our economic independence for the future. Now they've turned around and they've bought 10 percent of the manufacturing base of this country. They bought 20 percent of the banks. They own 46 percent of the commercial real estate in Los Angeles. They are buying America on the cheap. Now, when we have other countries that can't manage their economy down in Central and South America, we send down the American ambassador, we send down the International Monetary Fund, and we tell them what they can buy and what they can sell and how to run their economies. The ultimate irony would be to have that happen to us, because foreigners finally quit buying our securities.
When folks talk about Clintonian budget discipline, they should remember that Lloyd Benten was the Treasury Secretary whose program put us on the road to fiscal sanity. He is certainly missed in Washington today.
pic credit and more info on Lloyd Bentsen
(originally posted at Hoot at the Dark)