Newspaper Blogs

October 25, 2003

SPONDYLOLYSIS....Is AP serious? In an article about the presidential candidates and their service records in Vietnam, reporter Nedra Pickler reports that Howard Dean was rejected because of a medical condition:

In an interview with the AP, Dean said he had known since he was in high school that he had an unfused vertebra, a condition called spondylolysis.

Dean tried to spell the condition during the interview, but got it wrong after three tries, even though he is a medical doctor and worked as an internist before entering politics. He laughed over his difficulty and defended himself by saying he is not a bone specialist.

WTF? Someone actually wrote a paragraph criticizing Dean because he can't spell spondylolysis "even though he is a medical doctor"? Am I the only one who thinks someone is trying a little too hard to look tough and feisty?

Posted by Kevin Drum at October 25, 2003 04:39 PM | TrackBack


I'm an M.D., and I had to think long and hard about it to spell it in my mind. Some medical words are hard to spell!

Spondylolysis (did I spell that right?) generally is not a serious problem (though it might restrict bloodflow to the brain and cause one's thinking to be confused, which is why it's found more often in liberals -- har har, that's just turning around an old Democrat joke, har har). It is serious enough to keep one out of the military.

Posted by: Steve White at October 25, 2003 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ha ha! Can George Bush spell "Canada", even though he is president of the US?

I expect this to be a headline if Dean wins the nomination, a la Gore and Love Canal. This is exactly the kind of excrement that the national press would be delighted to see become the basis on which Americans decide the 2004 presidential election. They'll consider it an accomplishment, a feather in their caps, as they did with Gore and "invented the Internet." They'll say, "George Bush is a man of deeply-held Christian faith, while Howard Dean can't even spell spondylolysis."

Posted by: Demetrios at October 25, 2003 05:24 PM | PERMALINK

I expect all doctors to know everything about all areas of medicine, even if they're a specialist. Or if they have a doctorate in history or english literature.

You know, there's anti-intellictualism, and then there's ridiculously-stupidism.

Posted by: jesse at October 25, 2003 05:27 PM | PERMALINK

From what I understand of the condition, Dean wasn't aware of it until that point. It's not really a big deal, unless you're planning on a lot of stress on the back (like, say, hiking with full packs for several miles a day, and maybe crawling through the mud at odd intervals).

As people have noted, you can lead a physically active life (including skiing and sports) with it, and not really have a problem. But the military (rightly so) doesn't want people who have it, unless they're desperate for troops. And even in Vietnam, they weren't desperate enough for troops to have to call up people with that class of medical condition.

Posted by: Morat at October 25, 2003 05:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree it silly. But then I thought it was silly when so many people gave Dan Quayle a hard time about misspelling potato.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at October 25, 2003 05:40 PM | PERMALINK

Potato . . . spondylolysis . . .

Yeah, that's roughly equivalent in degree of difficulty.

At least Dean knew he was misspelling it, as opposed to Quayle, but that's quibbling.

Posted by: Thumb at October 25, 2003 05:54 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who worked in orthopedic rehab, there are several conditions (some are the same but can be spelled differently I believe)that have similar spellings. Some that I am aware of are, spondylolysis, spondylosis, spondylysis, spondylolisthesis,and spondylolythesis. I remember having to always look up the diagnosis based on the spelling to make sure I had it correct and that I was completely certain of the problem.
Anyway...Lest we forget..."Is our children learning?" Funny how basic(elementary) verb agreement and usage of proper grammar in Miserable Failure's verbal language is so easily forgiven. Such different standards indeed!

Posted by: couldntresist at October 25, 2003 05:59 PM | PERMALINK

But then I thought it was silly when so many people gave Dan Quayle a hard time about misspelling potato.

Maybe so, but really, there's just no comparison. It's possible for a reasonable person to think that this "spondylolysis" story is a piss poor attempt at mudslinging even if they laughed like hell at Quayle's "potatoe".

For one thing, remember that Quayle was doing a photo op at an elementary school. (My memory may be a little hazy since this was eleven years ago.) A little kid had just written the word "potato" correctly on the blackboard. The vice president of the United States then jumps up and "corrects" the kid by putting an "e" on the end to make it spell "potatoe".

Now that's not only politically embarrassing, it's also really funny! Plus it has the human interest angle. So it got a lot of press that it deserved.

Now we have this. "So, how do you spell "spondylolysis", Doctor?" It isn't politically embarrassing for Dean, it isn't even funny, and it makes you wonder WTF is up with the AP!

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at October 25, 2003 06:04 PM | PERMALINK

Silly, sure. But Quayle did ostentatiously "correct" a primary school student's spelling at a photo op with camera's rolling; a kid who afterwards remarked that he knew Quayle had it wrong, but (unlike the VP) was too polite to contradict him in front of a crowd. Big Bad Dan earned his ridicule, fair and square.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at October 25, 2003 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

I was thinking of spondylosis, but apparently spondylolysis, which I'd never heard of, is a different condition. Google has lots of hits for both. I agree that not being able to spell potato and not being able to spell spondylolysis (which I would bet that well over 99% of the population has never heard of) aren't quite in the same league.

Posted by: Frederick at October 25, 2003 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

Surely Dean should just have told the interviewer 'You're the journalist, you spell it.'

Posted by: davin at October 25, 2003 06:15 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a link to the whole "potatoe" story: . The article relates that William Figueroa, the kid who spelled the word right until Quayle "corrected" him, went on to drop out of high school, knock up his girlfriend, and work at a low-paying job at an auto showroom.

Posted by: Frederick at October 25, 2003 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

I've read that one of the physical requirements was, specifically, the ability to carry a 75-pound load on your back for a specified period of time or distance, something which Dean was unable to do.

In addition, Slate's profile on Dean had this excerpt from MTP to explain his deferment:

Dean told Russert, "I was given an examination. I had a previous back problem, which is evidently congenital, which prevented me from doing any sustained running, a problem that I've had since then...[edit] But I have been able to exercise and have a vigorous athletic life except for some things. One of those is long-distance running, which is how the problem came to my attention in the first place. I noticed the pain when I was in high school running track. … After the physical, I received a 1-Y deferment, [which] means you can only be called in times of national emergency. I didn't have anything to do with choosing any draft deferment. … The United States government said this is your classification. I'm not responsible for that."

In the May 25, 2003, Washington Post, Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, said, "[Dean's] view is, 'Look, I went in, got a physical and was rejected, and then I went on with my life.' "

Posted by: A2Matt at October 25, 2003 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

I like how the AP story lets Bush completely off the hook, and sums up his less-than-completely-accounted-for National Guard tenure thusly:

"President Bush was in the National Guard during the war and did not see combat."

End of story. You'd think there might be a mention of the controversy surrounding Bush's Guard days... the fact that he jumped dozens of spots on the waiting list to get his post, his unaccounted-for time, failure report for duty, grounding, possible failure of flight tests...After all, they mention specifically the other candidates draft numbers and everything. But, that might make the wrong people uncomfortable, better to make fun of Doctor Dean.

Posted by: A2Matt at October 25, 2003 06:39 PM | PERMALINK

This is worthy of a news report because......?

Posted by: spc67 at October 25, 2003 07:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'd love to bash Dean as much as the next guy, but, really, "spondylolysis"??? It ain't potato.

Nevertheless, devin is certain right when he writes "Surely Dean should just have told the interviewer 'You're the journalist, you spell it.'" But I assume that Dean was trying to show off his medical knowledge and got caught. And that's the real story. (Hey, I know that all politicans like to show off part of their bios. But it makes them look dumb if they screw up some detail of what they are trying to push. I would put this in the same category as if Bush got some detail about West Texas wrong, or if Kerry got some detail about Vietnam wrong.)

Posted by: Al at October 25, 2003 07:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!The Yankees Lost!

Some team from Florida or Georgia, I think.

Posted by: Zizka at October 25, 2003 08:03 PM | PERMALINK

Relax. No one is giving Dean a hard time, not the way I read this story. I'm amazed that we're even discussing it. He's not being "criticized".

Posted by: melk at October 25, 2003 08:29 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White,

Is that why you guys can't write anything??? You know, that's know, legible?

It's like that joke about the doctor who was having a hard time keeping up with his bills after first hanging out the ole shingle after med school?

He decided to take up kidnapping to raise some funds but had to give it NOBODY could read the ransom notes...Ha ha ha.

Go Dean....BTW, I was helpping with the voter registration last weekend and I'm always suprised by how many people DON"T vote. And yet it is one of the most powerful tools in our democracy...I don't know why so many people take this basic right so frivolously???

Posted by: Cheryl at October 25, 2003 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

er I was helping that is..

Posted by: Cheryl at October 25, 2003 08:35 PM | PERMALINK


I'm an artist, and I can't spell "Michaelangelo."


Posted by: Jesse at October 25, 2003 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

OH yes and also this part...

vote, and yet NOT vote. and yet... wasn't that good--can't spell, can't proof read either but I do like Howard Dean HOWEVER liberals do like folks that are very articulate and Dean does seem to have a problem in this area.

I hope this isn't a persistent problem for Dean... Dean needs a lawyer VP to help with argument since he might BE president? But in a Senate that is controled by Republicans and same with the house...

This is why Clinton did so well - he understood the fine art of negotiation and getting to YES...

Doctors don't know shit about that.

Posted by: Cheryl at October 25, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

Upon re-reading I realize that this an X-rated post. Parental discretion is advised.

All those different spondo words made me laugh. Lordy, are they a pain in the patootie. (sometimes literally) Nice to hear there's someone else who has to check them all.

But if you think doctors have trouble, you should listen to the patients! Bless them, how hard they
try! And it's no use asking them to spell it.

Let's see what I can remember.

Pee-new-money is easy.

The "smilin' mighty jesus" can send you right to Jesus, if you're unlucky.

Everyone wants to avoid bleeding so much you have clogs.

Fireballs in the eucharist can cause women to have clogs, especially at the change of lights.

Don't ever break the female bone in your leg. It requires imperative therapy (that much is true), and can take months to heal!

Remember those heman (female?!) clogs that woman can have? They come through the virginny.
(For some reason I always get the urge to hum "Shenadoah" when I hear this fairly common mispronunciation. Makes no sense. Should be "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny")

And, in case you think women have it rough, let's not forget the trouble that dratted prostrate glad can cause.

Is your blood sugar high? Bet you've got dohn-beat-us. Or maybe the sugar beets-us?

If you're African-American, I really hope you didn't inherit sick-as-hell anemia. This mispronunciation sticks around because it's all too true.

Do you have Mediterranian ancestry? Well, then along with sick-as-hell anemia, you could inherit tassel-anemia.

If you develop high-tension (sounds like a circus act), you better take your pills so you don't get a parallel stroke.

Speaking of pills. Are you allergic to penichillun? Gives you a red rush? (Wait 'til John Ashcroft hears that!) Or maybe it's worse, and you get a ana-prophylactic reaction?

If you are allergic to penichillun, your doctor might describe tricyclelines for you instead. Pedal right over to your local drug dealer and pick them up.

Then there's good old Eureka-mycin.

And people think medicine is a serious business...

Posted by: caduceus at October 25, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

There's a whole profession called "medical secretary" which make their livings spelling this kind of word. A complete Stedman's medical terminology library would run you something like $1000.

Posted by: Zizka at October 25, 2003 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton could get to Yes by pretty much butchering what plans he really wanted to input.

Of course, that's the essence of negotiation, but it's nothing special...and wait, how the hell did we even get to discussing that? Howie Dean can't spell spondylolwhothejesusthoughtthiswasagoodword and now the Republicans are going to keep him from getting his plans passed?

Posted by: Quain at October 25, 2003 09:50 PM | PERMALINK


Is that sarcasm,
or what?

Posted by: Jesse at October 25, 2003 09:52 PM | PERMALINK

Howie Dean can't spell spondylolwhothejesusthoughtthiswasagoodword and now the Republicans are going to keep him from getting his plans passed?

No, they'll use their majority in Congress to keep him from getting his plans (such as they are at this stage) from getting passed.

Seriously, we're making a mountain out of a molehill. Dean himself seemed to not have an issue with it, and the reporter probably included it to seem humorous or as a 'human interest' part of an other wise obscure story.

As far as Dean getting a medical deferment, yeah, I buy his story, it's a legit reason... but he then proceeds to go skiing? I mean, Clinton at least avoided (and eventually submitted to and was not chosen by) the draft for personal moral convictions. If you can ski, I think you should be able to be an intel officer or a military doctor or something non-combat.

Not a disqualifier for me (even though Dean's not on the top of my list), but it just kinda baffles and confuses me.

BTW, was Dean involved in the anti-Vietnam movement like Clinton or Kerry, or was he just kind of aloof until he decided to enter politics? Just curious.

Posted by: Kangaroo Jack at October 25, 2003 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

spondylolysis, or one of those related terms came up in a playground spelling challenge around 8th grade. "Hey, spell 'spondyloysis'" Of course, none of us knew that there were related-terms. Spell 'spondylolysis' and you knew it all.

Maybe the reporter suffers from spelling bee trauma.

Posted by: J Edgar at October 25, 2003 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, Clinton at least avoided (and eventually submitted to and was not chosen by) the draft for personal moral convictions.

Well, the thing is that Dean didn't avoid the draft. He went to his physical and they rejected him. What did you want him to do? Protest and insist on getting drafted?

Posted by: JP at October 25, 2003 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

I presume that the spelling attempts were verbal, spelling bee style. Had he had a chance to write it, I bet he wouldn't have any problems.

That is, if the reporter could pronounce "spondylolysis" correctly -- is it spon-di-LO-li-sis or spon-do-lo-LIE-sis?

Posted by: N in Seattle at October 25, 2003 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jack The Kangaroo: Do you know that Dean's brother disappeared/got chopped while on a boat trip down a southeast Asian river during the war? I can't recall what river (I think it was Cambodian), but in all likliehood his sibling was working for the CIA. Either that, or he was a young man completely devoid of common sense.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at October 26, 2003 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

As a medical editor who's worked on a number of orthopaedics books, I'm convinced that quite a few orthopods would have spelled it wrong too, if the manuscripts they submit are any indication--sometimes I wonder if these people went into medicine because they couldn't pass some kind of basic writing requirement. There are indeed several spondy- conditions. My job doesn't require that I know exactly what each one is, but that they are spelled correctly in books(what medical dictionaries are for)and that's why I'm an editor and not a doctor...

However, as a Dean supporter, I didn't think it was an attack exactly, more like showing Dean with a sense of humor about himself. After all it didn't say he was *angry* at not being able to spell the word.

Posted by: JMS at October 26, 2003 01:01 AM | PERMALINK

I picture Drudge trying to come up with his head-line this morning.

"Liberal Dem Dean misspells spondy..umm..spondyliosis...umm...oh fuck it"

Posted by: wetzel at October 26, 2003 05:36 AM | PERMALINK

Um, isn't that the reason that word processing programs have spell checkers?

Posted by: raj at October 26, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

Just out of curiosity, if Dean had been really gung-ho about serving in Vietnam, would this condition have disqualified him?

Suppose the draft board physical discovered a not-terribly-serious condition, like this one, which technically made him medically unfit. (I think we'd all agree that if the physical discovered a serious condition, like a heart problem, any draftee would be disqualified.)

Could Dean have appealed to a three-physician medical board, or something? If he'd written his congressman or the Pentagon and said that he was determined to serve, could he have gotten in? Could he have served in a non-infantry capacity?

It does seem as though the Vietnam draft was a little generous with medical deferments. If you look at recruiting stuff from WWII -- I was reading an old Collier's magazine the other day, and it had an ad recruiting naval aviators; to qualify for flight school, you basically had to have good vision and a pulse -- the standards were far, far more lenient.

I know plenty of people who escaped the draft for "medical" reasons who are totally healthy. Those "trick knees" and "cartiledge disorders" never seemed to bother them again after the selective service physical. It seemed like the draft boards were basically doing them a favor by disqualifying them. The question is, if the favor was offered to you, did you have to accept it?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at October 26, 2003 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

As far as Dean getting a medical deferment, yeah, I buy his story, it's a legit reason... but he then proceeds to go skiing?

I'm sorry, this doesn't make any sense. The military rejects him, and then Dean is supposed to...what? Give up every physical activity? They didn't give him a disabled parking permit, for crying out loud, or impose some sort of limitations on his civilian activities.

I mean, geez, Rush Limbaugh had a cyst on his ass that got him out of Vietnam, but would you complain that he "then proceeds to sit down"?


Posted by: Kynn at October 26, 2003 08:05 AM | PERMALINK

In their efforts to avoid an all expenses paid trip to southeast asia, many young men went to extravagent lengths to "beat" the draft physical and get the treasured medical exemption. What made this so challenging was the fact that the exam was so prefunctory that even a corpse had a small, but still positive, chance of passing.

Posted by: bobbyp at October 26, 2003 09:59 AM | PERMALINK

All this hooey over spelling. I never understood it during over Dan The Potatoe and i still dont understand it here.

In Bush's case we can probably make a case that his thinking is impaired and that the misspelling is definitely a symptom. In Dean's case we can't lodge that argument because we cannot plausably accuse him of inability.

All those of you who would destroy someone based on his or her spelling - get a grip - especially when people like Bush can surely spell taxes but sure as hell doesn't seem to know basic economic assumptions concerning them.

Posted by: Silvan at October 26, 2003 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Joe S.--
Dean says he was relieved that he couldn't be drafted--he opposed the war and didn't want to go. I find this refreshingly honest--YMMV.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at October 26, 2003 07:31 PM | PERMALINK

My cousin, son of a waitress and a gas station attendant, was rejected for flat feet at about the same time Dean was rejected for his back problem. He actually WANTED to get into the army but they wouldn't take him. That was in New York and Dean is from New York, too. I guess they were able to meet their quota easy enough in NY to not have to take people with even minor health issues.

Posted by: Lois at October 26, 2003 08:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what the dictionary has to say about a related word:

Apparently "spondylos" means vertebra and the suffix "-lysis" is quite common. Those are two things that Dean should have known and been able to put together and spelled correctly.

Maybe you guys should reconsider your Dean support and put your votes behind The Right Reverend.

Posted by: Lonewacko: I Blogged Across America fighting "liberals" all the way at October 26, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think some are missing the point about this article. It's not what is getting said about it now, or how Dean feels about it now, or what we think about it now.

It's what happens 6 months down the line when Sean Hannity pulls it out of his a** and says Dean is a doctor but can't spell a medical term, how can he be president? All context is loss, all memory of the event for that matter is lost, and people believe it as some conservative spin point. A la Al Gore, as another poster so rightly pointed out at the beginning.

Did I saw Sean Hannity? Sorry, I meant the RNC.

Posted by: Chris Fabri at October 27, 2003 06:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least I didn't criticize anybody's spelling. That should be "did I SAY."

Posted by: Chris Fabri at October 27, 2003 06:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm hardly a Republican or Dan Quayle fan, but the 'potato' story is just so blown up.

He's told he's going to judge a spelling bee, given a list of words and told to read them off and correct the children's spelling. The list has 'potato' incorrectly as 'potatoe.' He doesn't notice it.

He expected the list to be correct, and his mind was probably on other things. Who among us hasn't looked at a word that looked 'funny', and yet it was spelled correctly?

But enough people really wanted to label Quayle as 'stupid', and the meme took hold, which really is stupid.

Posted by: Tripp at October 27, 2003 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

For a word like "potato"? Come off it. It was dumb.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at December 10, 2003 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The reason the Quayle "story" had legs is because the man was vapid and the potato(e) incident was decent anecdotal evidence that everybody could appreciate.
Dean, however, is not a dullard; that should be pretty clear to everyone. You can agree or disagree with Dean on a number of issues but trying to make hay of his spelling brands the provocateur as a dimwit—not Dean.

Posted by: Kimberley at December 10, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I found it revealing he couldn't spell the word. Not only is he a doctor and should know root words and suffixes and prefixes, but more importantly, he has had this condition for about 40 years. He should know exactly what his condition is. And if he does, I don't see any problem in spelling it. Just break up the word. I don't think he has spent much time over the last 40 years thinking about it. That's why he couldn't spell it.

Posted by: cgw at December 10, 2003 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

I write for a living and I still have to look words up for spelling. This idiot reporter making an issue out of this is pure stupidity.

By the way, Dan Quayle was a dumb-ass, I think my 4 year old niece could spell potato correctly. He deserved the ridicule he got.

Posted by: four legs good at December 10, 2003 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

for the full scoop on spondy:

even the spinal specialists i've worked with call it "spondy" ...

Posted by: spk at December 10, 2003 11:01 AM | PERMALINK


On a tour of Latin America, Quayle said, in front of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and two ABC reporters that he had wished he "took more Latin so she could talk to these people".

When Jordan addressed the Congress, right after their plane landed, she opened her speech with "pray for the president."

Quayle IS stupid.

Posted by: Maccabee at December 10, 2003 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Nedra, how do you spell "shut the fuck up"?

Posted by: freelixir at December 10, 2003 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

My baby brother was rejected for the draft because he had a heart murmur that he was unaware of before his physical. He had been on the wrestling, tennis and swim teams during high school (and continues to this day running, playing basketball, swimming and playing tennis). He was relieved because he didn't have to move to Canada after all. He was able to continue his work on his doctorate in physics using his Fulbright scholarship.

The whole family was relieved, even my career army dad!

By the way, I liberally used my Webster's dictionary to write the above as this was not a post I wanted to screw up.

Posted by: San Jose Barbara at December 10, 2003 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wish a reporter would poll Dean's patients for their opinion. I worry about his temper but if he gets rated highly by patients, he's aces with me.

Posted by: lk at December 10, 2003 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

For some reason, all I can think of is a classic Looney Tune, with Sylvester and some big ol' dumb cat who keeps calling him George. "My name isn't George! It's Sylvester!" "But I can't say 'Sylvester', George!"

Posted by: filkertom at December 10, 2003 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I just went to the spondy web site provided by spk (thank you spk). My daughter was diagnosed with spondylolysis. (I didn't remember the word the doctor used but you do remember I said my baby brother was classified 4F). She ended up having surgery when she was 19 to fuse her spine and have steel rods inserted on each side of he spine. She's now 40, can't touch her toes but plays softball.

The military is and was not interested in providing free medical care to people (including Dean) with preexising conditions.

Posted by: San Jose Barbara at December 10, 2003 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I can't understand how some of you - especially you Dean supporters - are failing to see that this article is, in fact, an attack on your man. The reporter lets Bush off the hook with a single sentence:

"President Bush was in the National Guard during the war and did not see combat."

Then goes on to grill Dean for seven paragraphs, ending with this?

"After graduation, Dean spent some time in Colorado, where he skied despite his back condition..."

Don't you get it? Bush served in the National Guard, Dean skipped out on the draft in order to go skiing...

By the way, this reporter, Nedra Pickler, is becoming well known to some of us. Here's a link to another "fair and balanced" story she did, this time about the recent democratic debate...

And here is a link to Eschaton, where there are other stories and posts about Pickler...

Posted by: Bob at December 10, 2003 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ha ha! Can George Bush spell "Canada", even though he is president of the US?

can BUSH™ spell Uzbekistan, even though they are a member of The Coalition of The Billing?

Posted by: n69n at December 10, 2003 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

The military is not interested in drafting someone who could more easily be hurt. It costs them to provide medical care. Especially something that could develop into a serious spinal or major neurological problem. And he was 1Y, which means had he been around for WWll he would have been drafted. But cannon fodder in the 60s and 70s was plentiful, as opposed to 1945.
I have a son - swims, runs, does everything he should be able to do - but he cannot straighten one arm due to arthritis; can't carry heavy stuff with it, can't hold a rifle right. He's 4F, but healthy.

Posted by: lin at December 10, 2003 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

My wife has worked teaching mobility to bilnd people for over 25 years. When she first started using a word processor with a spell-check function (about 12 years ago), she was aghast to find that she had been misspelling "opthalmologist" her whole life!

Posted by: Ralph Kramden at December 10, 2003 01:36 PM | PERMALINK

As a dyslexic and habitual misspeller, I have to object to using a person's spelling ability as a measure of intelligence. It's stupid and people with dyslexia and some other learning disabilities often simply cannot learn to spell despite being otherwise intelligent people. For dyslexics, it's especially difficult to learn to spell when even the simplest words look profoundly wrong even when spelled correctly. Even Dan Quayle deserves some slack for the "Potatoe" gaffe. The Latin gaffe on the other hand was just idiotic.

They invented word processors with spell-check so that we don't have to worry about spelling in typed documents.

By the way, the inability to spell didn't stop me from getting a Ph.D.



Posted by: JimJ at December 10, 2003 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was in a small room with Quayle a few years ago as a few people were questioning him in a sort of friendly fashion. It was blindingly obvious to everyone that the man is just shit-stupid. He oozes stupid. But he also oozes pure, raw ambition in a way I'd never seen before. It just comes off him in waves like an emanation, and it's mixed with or fueled by the vanity he also oozes. An amazing experience to see.

It was like the poet in the movie Candy, whose hair always blows in the breeze no matter where he is.

I've never been in a similar situation with Bush. I'm sure it would be pretty much the same, except that Bush is probably less interested in pleasing people than Quayle is.

Posted by: Altoid at December 10, 2003 03:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, the thing is that Dean didn't avoid the draft. He went to his physical and they rejected him. What did you want him to do? Protest and insist on getting drafted?"

Pleez ! I broke my back in 1957 (three level compression fracture) and passed an Air Force physical in 1959. Dean went down there with a letter and his x-rays knowing exactly what would happen. What he did wasn't illegal, just don't make up all these excuses for him.

Quayle got sandbagged by a staff member who actually misspelled potato on a flash card. He probably knew how to spell it if he had been writing a sentence with the word in it.

Bush Sr. got unfairly trashed when he made a comment about a supermarket scanner. The incident never happened but it fit the story the reporter (I think the same one that Bush Jr made the famous remark about) wanted to tell. Bush Sr. didn't know about the common person's problems.

I don't care if Dean can spell spondylolysis, or spondylolisthesis. He probably doesn't know the difference but no internist does anyway. Few orthopods could recognize atrial fibrillation on an EKG. No big deal.

Posted by: Mike K at December 10, 2003 04:25 PM | PERMALINK

ot, but others started the Quayle thread..

Did anyone ever notice how when the press was sniffing around a story that would hurt Bush the senior, Dan Quayle would play court jester, and the press would get so caught up in the song and dance, and the cute little bells on his feet, that Bush got away.

Potatoe, if I recall corresponded awefully well with news cycles where some part or an other of iran contra was breaking.

You do not get the degrees that Dan Quayle holds by being stupid, you get "gentelman's 'c'" from an institution that you only were admitted to inthe first place cause your daddy went there.

Just my thoughts on the Whole Dan Quayle episode.

Mr Tek

Posted by: mr tek at December 10, 2003 06:45 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't that Quale mis-spelled potato. He tried to correct a child who had actually spelled it correctly. That he did this during a photo-op, clearly brings ridicule to bear. There is no comparison.

Posted by: JoeW at December 10, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Dean was classified 1Y by his draft board.

1Y means you are eligible to serve only in times of national emergency.

We now have a national emergency, and he is reporting for duty.

Posted by: Len at December 11, 2003 04:26 AM | PERMALINK

No one will ever read this, but potato is singular, potatoes is plural. The word Dean tried to spell has several other similar medical terms that spell close to the same. Both Quale and Dean have good excuses. Goes to show just how childish most people who are political are. We could all have educational discussions over issues, not this kind of minor stuff.

Posted by: Gene at December 12, 2003 03:51 PM | PERMALINK

it strikes me that if you have a condition then you would probably know how to spell it. and another thing, if dean wanted to serve he could have, but everybody at the time was looking for something to keep them out of a body bag. dean and bush are both guilty of wanting to STAY ALIVE. seesh, its not like one or the other was molesting kids or anything.

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