What is covered and what should be covered: Mom asking how to spell potatoes brought up the comedic obsession

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Any of us who purport to do journalism need to focus on what matters. Instead there is a focus on what is easy to say. Something wrong or meaningless or both, but it fits into the story that has already been told. Al Gore as exaggerator. (Not more than any other politician, especially not for the usual claims against him.) Dan Quayle as dumb.

There was something to learn from that incident. Not so much that a Vice President believed what was written on a test card, but that an entire room just goes along with it because that's what you do in the presence of power, even for the most mundane things. That a ridiculous after school anti-drug daycare program had bad materials. That someone born of wealth and privilege with no remarkable characteristics - positive or negative, except obliviousness to his own privilege - can become Senator and Vice President while the chances for a life of comfort and control for a kid who can spell better than him are vanishingly small in comparison.

Now, fast forward five years to 1997, when The Trentonian decided to look up William Figueroa to see how he was doing after his hour of fame.

By then, he was a 17-year-old high school dropout who had fathered a child and was working a low-paying job at an auto showroom.

Quayle, Mr. Family Values, couldn’t be reached for comment on what had become of his "potato’’ nemesis.

http://www.capitalcentury.com/1992.html

Whether any person anywhere ever can spell any given word does not truly matter. Many people's chances to shape their own lives, to make a positive impact in the world, and the justice and liberty or lack thereof that affects this opportunity— that matters. And it is a more interesting story, if we put in the great effort to tell it for individual people and for us all together.