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(b. 1923) Admiral James Bond Stockdale (yes, that is his real middle name) was Ross Perot's vice-presidential candidate in 1992.

Like Perot, Stockdale was no politician; both sought to present a straight-talking, no-BS image to the public. Unlike Perot, however, Stockdale had little or no public-speaking ability. His opening words in the 1992 debate--"Who am I? Why am I here?"--unfortunately set the tone for the rest of his remarks. At best, he sounded like a junior high student reading a hastily written speech; at worst, he sounded like a lost, confused old man. The poor man got out-debated by Dan Quayle and Al Gore, of all people. Unfortunately, people judge debaters on style rather than content, and Stockdale has been widely and unfairly ridiculed as a buffoon.

One of my professors knew Admiral Stockdale personally and vigorously defended him at every opportunity. He told me that Stockdale survived capture and eight years of imprisonment in Vietnam; after his release, he went on to teach well-respected courses in ethics and moral philosophy at Columbia. He is (according to my professor) an intelligent, thoughtful, and honest man with great strength of character.

Stockdale later gave up on politics and returned to a quiet life of teaching and writing. He's the author of several books, including A Vietnam Experience: Ten Years of Reflection and Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.

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