Almost exactly twenty years ago, when I was Vice President Dan Quayle's chief of staff, we faced an attempt by some aides to President George H.W. Bush to dump Quayle at the last minute. President Bush refused. Doing so, he thought, would be disloyal and dishonorable.
So the Bush-Quayle ticket went on to face the voters that November. We received 37.5 percent of the vote, compared to 53.4 percent four years before. Some who'd pushed to remove Quayle were quick to wonder whether things would have been different if he had been dumped. As it happens, they wouldn't have been—but in any case, President Bush treated their second-guessing with well-deserved scorn. We had lost—but we had lost with dignity.
Today, White House press secretary Jay Carney adamantly insisted that Vice President Joe Biden will remain on this year's Democratic ticket. Good. We salute the president for following the same dignified path as President Bush did in 1992.
There was a case to be made three months ago—and we made it—that President Obama could and should orchestrate a dignified and face-saving exit for his vice president. Biden's departure would have meant a higher quality election campaign, and might have helped Obama's electoral chances for a second term. But Obama didn't pull the trigger. And now that time has passed.
Years from now, men and women of good will laud President Obama for his decency, his loyalty—nay, his humanity—in resisting all entreaties to cast Joe Biden overboard, in refusing to leave Joe Biden a prophet without honor in his own party, in standing by his man Joe. There are worse things than being a one-term president.