- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

Former Vice President Dan Quayle said yesterday he doesn't regret giving his "Murphy Brown speech" 10 years ago.

If he had to do it all over again, Mr. Quayle said he would have made the same comments.

"I don't regret it," Mr. Quayle told an audience at the National Press Club yesterday, which also happened to be the 10th anniversary of his famous speech. "Whenever you take on somebody who's popular on television, you always get a little bit of tension. But I felt that I was right at the time, and I feel that I'm right now."

Mr. Quayle is widely credited with unleashing a much wider "family values" movement in 1992, with the following words from a speech he gave in San Francisco:

"It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown, a character that supposedly symbolizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."

In the years since his remark ignited a firestorm of criticism in the media, Mr. Quayle's views have become more widely accepted and, in some cases, praised.

Yesterday, Mr. Quayle said he is impressed by the progress the country has made in regards to family values and fatherhood. Since his speech, he said there have been many "fatherhood" initiatives set forth, efforts to get fathers more involved in their children's lives. Some of the initiatives include the Promise Keepers and the Million Man March.

"It's now OK to argue in our nation's capital that fathers do matter and that marriage is good," Mr. Quayle said. "You can now use the 'M-word' in a positive way. And that's good."

He said the number of children born out of wedlock has declined in the past decade and more children are now living in homes with fathers or stepfathers. Also, the number of children living in single-parent homes has stabilized.

"Look at the discussion we provoked," Mr. Quayle said. "I know that many in our campaign were quite nervous about that speech. There was some defensiveness. But we're actually having this conversation today, 10 years later. So from that prospect I'm gratified."

Was it a political mistake to pick on a fictional character like Murphy Brown? "I don't know if it helped me politically," he said. "It's fairly neutral at this point."

Mr. Quayle also reflected on Hollywood's current "mixed signals" to the American family. "Some Hollywood folks trash traditional values on the screen but they cherish their family and practice good values in their own personal life," Mr. Quayle said. "Some of them are very restrictive on what their children can see or not see. They exercise discipline, parental control and censorship."

He mentioned actors Warren Beatty, who now openly talks about the joys of marriage and fatherhood, and Sarah Jessica Parker, who stars in HBO's "Sex and the City," who is taking time off from shooting episodes to enjoy motherhood with her husband, Matthew Broderick. "There should be a new motto in Hollywood, do as I do, not as I act," Mr. Quayle said.

But, Mr. Quayle admitted that sitcoms are getting better at promoting family values. As an example, he mentioned the show, "Friends," in which one of the characters, Rachel, is single and pregnant. "With 'Friends,' we've won half the battle," Mr. Quayle said, "because in that show, the father is involved. In 'Murphy Brown,' he wasn't."


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