Murphy Brown Rises Again

Conservatives could hardly believe their ears. Those who tuned into NBC last Friday heard President Clinton confess that yes, Dan Quayle was right in his infamous Murphy Brown speech. What a dramatic turnaround. Just over a year ago, when Clinton was a candidate, he sharply criticized Dan Quayle's speech. Many denounced it as intolerant, judgmental, narrow-minded. Clinton himself accused the Bush administration of "lectur[ing] the rest of us on how to behave." But a few days ago Clinton didn't seem to mind the lecture. In a television interview with Tom Brokaw, the president mentioned that he had read Quayle's speech and decided it was right after all. In his own words, "It is certainly true that this country would be better off if our babies were born into two-parent families." I'm not sure what made the president change his mind. Perhaps it's that today so many Americans have stared down the barrel of a gun held by a 10-year-old kid. Clinton noted that the rise of violence "is related to the decline of traditional families and upbringing." Traditional families. Those are strong words-in fact, they're fighting words to the standard Democratic constituency, from gays to radical feminists to the Hollywood left. Maybe that's why the last Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, didn't have the courage to stand up for the traditional family. When the White House held a conference on the family, talk about "the family" was dropped in favor of talking about "families" in the plural, suggesting that there is no normative pattern for family structure. Even President Bush failed to use his bully pulpit to support families. When Dan Quayle delivered his Murphy Brown speech, Bush backed away from defending it. And at the Republican National Convention, Barbara Bush added insult to injury by saying, "However you define the family, that's what we mean by family values." In short, by standing up for two-parent, traditional families, Clinton has shown real courage. He's made the most radical pro-family statement of any modern president. After all, many pundits said the Republicans lost the last election because of the family values issue. Now Clinton has picked up the baton. Christians ought to seize the moment and hold the president to his word. If Clinton means what he says-and I pray that he does-he ought to support pro-family policies. And his primary mission field ought to be his own administration, which is packed with people who still haven't seen the light. He could begin by informing Joycelyn Elders that giving condoms to young kids undercuts the moral authority of parents. He ought to tell Donna Shalala that letting teens have abortions behind their parents' backs tears apart the delicate fabric of family unity. Roberta Achtenberg, the first openly homosexual ever given a high administration post, ought to be told that giving legitimacy to homosexual unions undermines heterosexual marriage. So, yes, let's give the president credit for on-the-job learning. Now he needs to put his beliefs in action by promoting policies that actually support the family. Christians will be watching closely.


Chuck Colson


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