Jewish World Review May 14, 2002 /3 Sivan 5762

Clarence Page

Clarence Page
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy | Stop the presses! Dan Quayle likes "The Osbournes" better than "Murphy Brown."

The former vice president released that bit of late-breaking news in response to a question I asked him at the National Press Club after he spoke there Thursday.

"Do you think MTV's 'The Osbournes' helps or hurts family values?" I scribbled on a question card that was read to him ahead of everybody else's.

He chuckled. He thought for a moment about the hit docu-soap about the Beverly Hills home life of shock-rock star Ozzy Osbourne, his manager-wife and two of his three teen kids.

Then he answered. Yes, he concluded, the Osbournes in their bizarre way help to confirm the value and virtue of good family values, once you get past their "sort of dysfunctional aspects."

Even though the potty-mouthed dialogues are frequently bleeped, the show features two "loving parents." And "there are some very good lessons there that are being transmitted of not doing drugs, of not doing alcohol."

So, even though Osbourne home life is quite different from Quayle family life, he gave the show a guarded thumbs-up.

I was amused by how amazed Quayle sounded, as if he was discovering for the first time that, lo and behold, you don't have to be a doctrinaire conservative zealot to appreciate and maintain a loving family life.

Yes, even "cultural elites," as he called the Hollywood folks, agree that kids are better off with two parents at home.

Quayle understood this now and was eager to claim at least part of the credit. Ten years had passed since he made headlines with his famous swipe at "Murphy Brown," a sitcom about an unmarried TV reporter who had decided to raise her child alone.

"It doesn't help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown - a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman - mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice,'" Quayle said in a San Francisco speech to the Commonwealth Club of California.

Quayle was beat up by critics for that and for claiming that a "poverty of values" had led to the Los Angeles riots and for calling for "social sanctions" against women who bear children out of marriage "irresponsibly."

But now he feels vindicated, he said at the press club, citing dramatic shifts he has noticed in the political landscape and in the public and private lives of Hollywood's "cultural elite."

He praised Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City" for taking a maternity leave to spend more time with her husband, Mathew Broderick, and the child they are expecting.

He even gave guarded praise to "Friends." Yes, Jennifer Aniston, who is married to Brad Pitt, plays an unmarried expectant mother on the show, but at least the father is helping to support the child. "So, we've made at least 50 percent progress," Quayle quipped.

Well, maybe the shift is only in Quayle's perspective.

That's what right-wingers get for believing their own propaganda. The real political history of the past decade shows that Quayle's poke at "Murphy Brown" was part of a much larger populist movement to rally middle-class discontent against welfare recipients, who constantly were portrayed as "irresponsible" and, at worst, "cheats."

In fact, you did not have to be a conservative to think something had to be done about the way welfare had turned into a trap for too many families. In fact, the Bush-Quayle team would be unseated later in 1992 by Bill Clinton, a centrist Democrat who promised to "end welfare as we know it" and hold fathers accountable for their children.

Clinton kept his promise under pressure from a very conservative Congress. He signed a welfare reform bill (after vetoing two others) before the 1996 elections that was far tougher in its cut-off limits than most Democrats wanted. Fortunately, the decade's economic boom and a variety of support services like day care and job training have helped the reforms to work, although benefits vary wildly from state to state.

Unfortunately, while about 3 million fewer families are receiving welfare benefits, at least 2 million remain on the rolls. And the welfare poor too often become the new working poor. Those who are working are making more than they were receiving from welfare, on average, but too little to rise out of poverty.

As Congress prepares to debate reauthorization of the welfare reform law, President Bush wants to ratchet up the pressure. He proposes to put 70 percent of all welfare recipients to work and raise the minimum to a 40-hour week instead of the current 30-hour week.

It is ironic that Bush's new family values would require welfare-to-work participants to spend even more time working and away from their families. He also proposes to spend $300 million on counseling programs that encourage marriage. That's not a bad idea. It sounds like a lot of people may need counseling for the new stress his welfare plans put on them.

Quayle can feel vindicated, all right. He got the ball rolling on welfare reform. Let's hope it doesn't roll over the families it was intended to help.

Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks

© 2001 TMS