It's of interest to me that Dan Quayle was attacked as a lightweight, based in significant part on his poor academic record in college, and rumors that he (a) had been involved in a plagiarism scandal in college, a rumor spread by Indiana Democrats; and (b) that his record at Indiana-Indianapolis Law School--a middling school, that he had to lobby hard to get into--was very poor. [I have a strong recollection that Quayle was said to have been at the very bottom of his class in law school.]
It turns out that despite extensive efforts, no one was able to come up with an evidence that Quayle was involved in plagiarism, and that when he finally released his law school grades, he had a 2.74 GPA, undistinguished but respectable, especially in the days before grade inflation. (Washington Post, Jan. 7, 1992).
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post of Sept. 18, 1987,
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., fighting to salvage his Presidential campaign, today acknowledged "a mistake" in his youth, when he plagiarized a law review article for a paper he wrote in his first year at law school.
Mr. Biden insisted, however, that he had done nothing "malevolent," that he had simply misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully.
And Biden graduated 76th out of 85 students at Syracuse Law School, another middling law school.
Perhaps in his Senate career, Biden has dazzled everyone with his honesty and brilliance, in which case all of this becomes of marginal relevance at best. And Biden certainly has a longer record to stand on today than Quayle had in 1988, which makes his early life inherently less relevant. But it would be fun to contact Democrats who attacked Quayle as a dishonest lightweight based on his academic record and rumors of plagiarism and ask what they think of Biden.
UPDATE: I'm not saying that I care where Biden went to law school, or what his grades were. In fact, I don't.
But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats. I don't want to get into a debate about Ann Coulter, but she had a very persuasive and amusing chapter on this point in one of her early books [I think it was Slander] (e.g.,
Gore and [serves me right for not looking this up] Bradley was deemed much smarter than Bush, even thought the latter did better on intelligence-related standardized tests). [Or just consider how dimwitted Reagan was deemed to be.] If Quayle's academic performance was considered by Democratic partisans and their friends in the MSM sound evidence that he was too dumb to be vice-president, well, what's sauce for the goose...
UPDATE: Some commenters claim that Quayle's reputation as "not too bright" was a result of his gaffes, especially the infamous potato incident. In fact, the potato misspelling didn't occur until June 1992, and Quayle was denounced for dimness almost immediately upon being selected as Bush's vice-presidential nominee in mid-1988--look it up on Lexis if you'd like--with his academic record playing a very prominent role in the critique. At the time, there were no Quayle gaffes remotely approaching what Biden has said just within the last year (e.g., Obama being a "clean" black candidate.)