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The Wisdom of Dan Quayle: Social science has vindicated him
National Review ^ | 03/27/2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 03/27/2013 5:42:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Almost exactly 20 years ago, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead wrote a controversial essay for The Atlantic titled “Dan Quayle Was Right.”

In case you’ve forgotten (or never knew), let me fill you in on what Quayle was right about.

There once was a popular sitcom called Murphy Brown. The title character, played by Candice Bergen, was a news anchor. The show had its moments, but it was also insufferably pleased with itself and its liberalism. At least until the arrival of the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre (The West Wing, The Newsroom), it set the standard for such things.

Murphy Brown was rich, powerful, and independent. In a 1992 episode, she got pregnant and decided to have the baby, without a husband or, as so many say today, a “partner.” On May 19, 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a speech titled “Reflections on Urban America.” His address was a response to the riots in Los Angeles that month, and he placed a heavy emphasis on the breakdown of the black family — sounding a bit like Barack Obama today.

Quayle mentioned Murphy Brown once. “Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong, and we must be unequivocal about this. 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. I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but . . . it’s time to make the discussion public.”

Quayle succeeded in launching a public discussion. His side lost. Feminists, Hollywood bigmouths, and the usual suspects went ballistic. Murphy Brown’s producers made the execrable decision to write a show in which Quayle had attacked the “real” Murphy Brown, not a fictional character. In full martyr mode, the make-believe Murphy Brown said, “Perhaps it’s time for the vice president to expand his definition and recognize that, whether by choice or circumstance, families come in all shapes and sizes.”

Quayle, of course, never said that families don’t come in all shapes and sizes. What he said was that children who are raised by married, responsible parents do better than those who aren’t. And that’s where Whitehead came in. Marshaling the still-gelling social science of the time, she put numbers behind Quayle’s assertions.

Back then, Whitehead’s essay was heretical. Today, it’s conventional wisdom. Last year, Isabel Sawhill, a widely respected liberal economist at the Brookings Institution, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms.”

Sawhill noted that kids raised by married parents — not just parents living together, never mind single mothers — simply do better. They do better academically and are less likely to get arrested, get pregnant out of wedlock, or commit suicide. They’re also much less likely to be poor or stay poor.

None of these claims are particularly controversial among social scientists. And none of this is particularly aimed at gay marriage, pretty much the only kind of marriage liberal elites want to celebrate now.

But where Quayle was wrong — though only partially — was in putting the blame on Hollywood.

The black family was falling apart decades before Murphy Brown. And since then, the white family has been breaking down even as the majority of Hollywood fare continues to romanticize traditional marriage or does an adequate job of showing how hard single motherhood is.

I don’t know why marriage for all but the well-off and well educated continues to disintegrate; maybe it would help if elites “preached what they practiced,” to borrow a phrase from Charles Murray. Forbes writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry notes that being married correlates about as positively with a person’s wages as going to college does. But experts hammer the importance of college while ignoring marriage.

Maybe after the debate over gay marriage settles down, elites could focus on the far more pressing marriage crisis unfolding before their eyes.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: danquayle; family; gaymarriage; marriage; quayle; trends

1 posted on 03/27/2013 5:42:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
I regret Dan Quayle's withdrawal from public life.
He, like most conservatives was portrayed as a dunce by the media. Actually he was pretty damn smart and correct in most of his views. He left the public arena much too soon.
2 posted on 03/27/2013 5:53:33 AM PDT by Tupelo (Old, Bald, Ugly, Fat and Broke in Arizona)
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To: SeekAndFind

With shows like MTV’s real world having a homosexual character, news profiles about a “courageous” homosexual teen boy trying to take his boyfriend to prom or getting elected as homecoming “queen”, Queer eye for the straight guy, etc etc etc Hollywood removed the “ick” factor.

Legalized casinos, drugs, and soon homosexual marriage are just the beginning. Next up will be the decriminalization of prostitution, the lowering of the age of consent, and ultimately the legalization of bestiality.

Sure, some will laugh at such things ever being possible. These are the same people who did the YMCA at their weddings or let their kids dress up as the Village People for halloween, or let their teens see the Rocky Horror Picture show-totally blind to what it all was really about.


3 posted on 03/27/2013 6:01:29 AM PDT by icwhatudo (Low taxes and less spending in Sodom and Gomorrah is not my idea of a conservative victory)
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To: Tupelo

And, as a tribute to Dan, I always prefer the unapproved plural spelling of potato.


4 posted on 03/27/2013 6:03:25 AM PDT by bamabound (teach them how to think, not what to think!)
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To: Tupelo
He, like most conservatives was portrayed as a dunce by the media.

Very true. And now we have the same media portraying dunces as geniuses.

5 posted on 03/27/2013 6:15:51 AM PDT by ken in texas (I was taught to respect my elders but it keeps getting harder to find any.)
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To: bamabound

Dan Quayle was 10 times as smart as the idiot we have as Vice-President now.


6 posted on 03/27/2013 6:17:30 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: icwhatudo
With shows like MTV’s real world having a homosexual character, news profiles about a “courageous” homosexual teen boy trying to take his boyfriend to prom or getting elected as homecoming “queen”, Queer eye for the straight guy, etc etc etc Hollywood removed the “ick” factor.

Not enough, apparently, since the residents of California voted two times against gay marriage. the last vote, Prop 8 was a 52-46 defeat for gays! Quite remarkable considering San Francisco and Hollywood!

The reason this is even at the SC, is they couldn't get enough support to put yet another measure on the ballot!

7 posted on 03/27/2013 6:17:37 AM PDT by CAluvdubya (Molon Labe)
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To: Tupelo

i do, too! the left found its voice when it succeeded in taking down Robert Bork. the will never go back, all the while, successfully blaming republicans for the hateful rhetoric.


8 posted on 03/27/2013 6:19:03 AM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: Tupelo

i do, too! the left found its voice when it succeeded in taking down Robert Bork. the will never go back, all the while, successfully blaming republicans for the hateful rhetoric.


9 posted on 03/27/2013 6:19:39 AM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: SeekAndFind

Most liberals (who are so sure they are smarter than the rest of us) still believe that Quayle foolishly thought Murphy Brown was a real person.

Goebbels would be jealous.


10 posted on 03/27/2013 6:22:02 AM PDT by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
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To: Tupelo
I regret Dan Quayle's withdrawal from public life.

I do, too. I was hoping that after leaving the vice presidency, he would run for governor of Indiana so that if victorious, he could put some of his ideas into practice. That might have also made him a strong candidate for the presidency. Instead, following a half-hearted run for president in 2000, he just faded away.

11 posted on 03/27/2013 6:26:14 AM PDT by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: SeekAndFind

With all due respect to Quayle,
it’s not _his_ wisdom that is vindicated,

it’s Biblical wisdom that is, once again, shown to be truth.


12 posted on 03/27/2013 6:28:23 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Left wouldn’t have so much success if the RINO’s didn’t let them. Conservatives are a much larger portion of the population than liberals.


13 posted on 03/27/2013 6:29:39 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: lacrew

I was in college when Quayle was vp and I thought he was a complete idiot due to my steady diet of pop culture at the time. I never knew until recently that potatoe was written on the flash card provided to him. Its stunning how much power the media wields.


14 posted on 03/27/2013 6:30:54 AM PDT by bigtoona
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To: SeekAndFind
Daniel Patrick Moynihan said almost the same thing back in the 1960’s. He was attacked as ignorant and racist.

Dan Quayle said it in the 1990’s. He was attacked as ignorant, uncaring and focused on a TV show.

The Democrat refusal to support their own children and the decline of the traditional two parent family is causing the breakdown of the American economy and breakdown of American society.

Politicians don't talk about it much anymore. They know the message will be ignored and they will be attacked.

15 posted on 03/27/2013 6:34:22 AM PDT by detective
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To: icwhatudo

How did I end up in this hand-basket, and why is it getting so hot?

The slide has been going on for a long time. The slope is just getting steeper and we’re getting nearer the bottom.


16 posted on 03/27/2013 6:34:50 AM PDT by Little Ray (How did I end up in this hand-basket, and why is it getting so hot?)
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To: Tupelo

He was, but he did not come across that way on TV for some reason. Sure, the media portrayed him unfairly, but some of this was self inflicted.


17 posted on 03/27/2013 6:38:00 AM PDT by C. Edmund Wright (Tokyo Rove is more than a name, it's a GREAT WEBSITE)
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To: SeekAndFind

Candice Bergen personally agreed with Quayle.

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,624379,00.html


18 posted on 03/27/2013 6:49:15 AM PDT by DManA
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To: bigtoona

The odd thing about the potato incident - I would have spelled it wrong too. There are a few words that I just have a terrible time remembering how to spell, and potato is one of them. I think most people have a list of words they spell wrong.

The contrast with how the media treats Biden is stunning, though.


19 posted on 03/27/2013 6:58:38 AM PDT by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
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To: detective
Moynihan was one Democrat I had respect for.
20 posted on 03/27/2013 7:15:17 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: Venturer

“Dan Quayle was 10 times as smart as the idiot we have as Vice-President now.”

I disagree. If Dan Quayle were 10 times smarter than Slow Joe, he still wouldn’t have enough sense not to sleep in his own feces.


21 posted on 03/27/2013 7:20:24 AM PDT by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (I'll stop being a cynic when the world stops giving me reasons to be cynical.)
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To: C. Edmund Wright
Sure, the media portrayed him unfairly, but some of this was self inflicted.

Because the media set the standard. I mean, forget black and/or white, Obama is a creepy dude - except the media says he's cool.

22 posted on 03/27/2013 7:28:13 AM PDT by donna (Pray for revival.)
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To: icwhatudo
Next up will be the decriminalization of prostitution

Good idea - Nevada's been doing well with it for years.

23 posted on 03/27/2013 7:28:52 AM PDT by JustSayNoToNannies ("The Lord has removed His judgments against you" - Zep. 3:15)
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To: donna

Your point is right, yet so is mine...the two are not mutually exclusive...


24 posted on 03/27/2013 7:32:16 AM PDT by C. Edmund Wright (Tokyo Rove is more than a name, it's a GREAT WEBSITE)
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To: CAluvdubya

I think they have oodles of procedural problems and the thing will get nowhere. We have an analogous situation in Kansas where the legislature set the school funding and the parents are suing for more.


25 posted on 03/27/2013 8:02:42 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: SeekAndFind
Forbes writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry notes that being married correlates about as positively with a person’s wages as going to college does. But experts hammer the importance of college while ignoring marriage.

Great talking point.

26 posted on 03/27/2013 10:07:52 AM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
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To: bamabound
And, as a tribute to Dan, I always prefer the unapproved plural spelling of potato.

In the early 90's I worked with a very liberal fellow who vilified Qayle for this mispelling. I asked him if he could spell "potatoes". He proceded to get it wrong, making the same mistake as Quayle! And that was after the MSM had lectured conservatives repeatedly on how stupid they are, because Quayle botched one irregular spelling.

Hypocrites.

27 posted on 03/27/2013 3:20:54 PM PDT by nonsporting
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To: SeekAndFind; Tupelo
A timely post indeed.

It may be a very hard thing to face, but the logic of having people carefully sit back and consider the situation using their brains has not worked.

Again and again the occurrence of a person making what seems to be a controversial statement, is blown up beyond proportion. This is the successful technique by the left and their lackeys. I remember one a Barbara Walters, holding forth on a presidential debate. She turned to the camera and the great open eyes seemed to mesmerize. She rambled on and then said.

"Unless there is a gaffe".

Simply put, much of the general public seem to be suborned to think that just one simple statement can eliminate the best of candidates.

It is frustrating to see clearly that the left and other flunkeys can pick and chose. They can ignore their own favourite designate, if he/she makes a damaging mistatement. Then they can turn full fury on a candidate or other adversary, the public seem to buy it.

Just damn!

28 posted on 03/27/2013 8:51:30 PM PDT by Peter Libra
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