No Regrets For Dan Quayle

Former Vice President Dan Quayle
A decade after his famous rebuke of television character Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock, former Vice President Dan Quayle on Thursday refused to back down, saying his speech helped reinforce the importance of fathers in the modern American family.

"You can now use the 'M' word in a positive way," said Quayle, referring to marriage. "It's now okay to say fathers matter."

Quayle's speech to the National Press Club came almost exactly ten years after he made headlines for questioning the wisdom of a television character raising a child without a father figure. The program "Murphy Brown" was on CBS from 1988 to 1998.

"It doesn't help when primetime 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 May 19, 1992 speech on family values to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

The criticism of Candice Bergen's television character caused an uproar in the liberal community, and spurred countless jokes on late-night talk shows. Since losing the 1992 election, Quayle has spent most of his time working as a consultant for a variety of financial concerns. He briefly explored running for president in 1999, but dropped out when the fund-raising power of George W. Bush became overwhelming.

Quayle denied that the so-called "Murphy Brown" speech was a political mistake.

"When you take on someone who's popular, it's always a bit of a risk," Quayle said. "But no, I didn't regret it then and I don't regret it now."

A decade later, Quayle has tempered his distaste for the media and entertainment elite, but still criticizes Hollywood actors for playing roles that do not reflect their actual real-life values. In particular, he singled out Warren Beatty's transformation from Hollywood playboy to doting father as a prime example of that hypocrisy.

"Perhaps their new motto ought to be: 'Do as I do, not as I act,'" he said.

Quayle was asked about the new MTV hit show, "The Osbournes," which features the daily family life of heavy metal shock-rocker Ozzy Osbourne. While Quayle said "The Osbournes" is not much like the Quayle family, it does send a positive message.

"There are some positive things you can get out of this crazy family," Quayle said.

By Douglas Kiker