Dan Quayle, 44th Vice-President of U.S.A.
Chairman: David Race
The Fraser Institute
Introduction by Warren Jeston, Trustee of The Fraser Institute
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Warren Jeston, I am a trustee of The Fraser Institute and today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Vice-President Dan Quayle.
We live in a world of instant information and opinion. Media sound bites form a lasting impression almost without doing justice to the substance of the issues involved. Our guest speaker is no stranger to the slings and arrows of media scrutiny. He has experienced first-hand the enormous impact that small events can have on personal reputation; events that are in no way a true measure of this man. Never afraid to take a firm stand on contentious issues, Mr. Quayle took considerable public heat for his comments about the TV character, Murphy Brown. Lost in the media free-for-all on his remarks was the central message, that the root cause of much social unrest is the spread of a new poverty, the poverty of family values. These traditional family values which seemed to ebb in the 1980s and the 1970s are now being embraced by the very people that criticized them. Suddenly a growing number of people recognize, as the Atlantic Monthly succinctly put it, that Dan Quayle was right.
Elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 29, Dan Quayle subsequently served eight years in the Senate before being chosen as George Bush's running mate in 1988. This already impressive list of political accomplishments may have grown longer still, say in 1996. Dan Quayle is today Chairman of the Competitiveness Centre of the Hudson Institute. This Centre is a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank focused on helping the United States meet the challenges of global competition. A graduate of Indiana University Law School, he has recently returned to his roots, re-settling in the Indianapolis area with his wife, Marilyn, and their three children. He writes a weekly newspaper column, continuing a strong family tradition in journalism. His journalistic and political talents are on display in his book, Standing Firm, which I have read and I highly recommend. It is quite a good read, full of political insight, and, from what I could see, doesn't contain a single spelling mistake.
Thank you. Please join me in welcoming Dan Quayle.
Well, thank you, Warren, and I note for the record (in the recognition of my world-class spelling ability) that we did not have quail, but we did have potatoes.
We're going to have some fun today. I'm going to speak for approximately 30 minutes and then we'll reserve the remainder of the time for your questions. We'll talk about a number of things. We'll talk about the book, obviously. :I'll give you my objective and unbiased viewpoint of the current administration in the United States. I'll tell you a little bit about the Republican Party and some of the issues of the day.
First, let me just acknowledge Toronto. I'm delighted to be at The Fraser Institute. I know that I'm in very good hands because the first two individuals that I met as I walked in the door at the reception had Adam Smith ties on. I don't think everyone can recognize an Adam Smith tie, but I certainly do. I'm a strong champion of Adam Smith and the invisible hand, and so I knew that I was fairly welcome, at least with certain people of this fine institute. I also want to pay respects to--although I guess this year is a little different--your baseball team. You know, back-to-back championships are wonderful. I want you to know that in the United States, Toronto's is a very popular baseball team, and the reason it is not number one in too many of the cities, but is always number two, is the intense competition we have between Detroit and Chicago, Chicago and St. Louis, and New York and Baltimore. And Toronto is just less hostile. So Toronto is very much of a favourite. But it's very difficult for someone like myself (who grew up in Indiana and listened to the White Sox games, and used to be able to recite the RBIs and the home runs and the whole bit chapter and verse) now that Canada has taken over in baseball. My only lament is now you're going to get into basketball. Now I come from Indiana, where we take basketball very seriously, so just be careful. I'll be glad to say nice things about your baseball ability, but I'm not so sure that I can overcome my biases and say these things about basketball as well.
Well, let me give you a catalogue of what I have been doing since I've been out of office. Obviously, I've written a book. It took 16 months. I do a lot of speaking. I'm with the Hudson Institute, as Warren pointed out. I travel all over the country. I do a lot of speaking. I find out that the aspect of recognition is a little bit different today than it was when I was Vice-President. When I was Vice-President, obviously there wasn't any problem with recognition. If you had problems with recognition, the Secret Service would help you along. You'd be there with all of them, the limousines, the planes, and all that paraphernalia. But now that I travel by myself, and go into meetings unaccompanied, people aren't necessarily sure about whom I am. I was speaking in Idaho several months ago. I run in the morning, so when I got on the elevator early in the morning, I was in my running outfit. There were a couple there, and I could see that they weren't too sure whom I was. Finally the lady got the courage to look at me, and she said, "Are you whom I think you are?" I said, "Well, Ma'am, that depends on whom you think I am." And she said, "You're Dan Quayle." I said, "Yes, I am." And she waited about 15 seconds, and she drilled me right in the eyes, and she said, "No, you're not." So I could go on and regale you with stories of whom I am and whom I'm not. The recognition factor does diminish quite rapidly.
As far as the book is concerned, my objective in writing it was just to tell you my personal story. It is a personal, political story of how I took unprecedented abuse from the very beginning of the 1988 election campaign. If you want a summary of the book, it's this. Nineteen eighty-eight was a political victory for me in that I was elected the Vice-President of the United States, but it was also a personal defeat. There is no other way to describe it. Nineteen ninety-two was just the opposite. It was a political defeat--the first time in my life that I ever ran for political office and lost--but it was a personal victory. I was out there articulating a vision for the future. It was a very good campaign personally and a very good debate, but even though it felt good inside, the political results were that we were defeated.
The book also discusses some important lessons to be learned not just in politics, but in life. The very fundamental lesson learned for me--and I made this mistake in 1988, which helped contribute to the unfair and untrue caricature of me that was formed--is that I quit trusting myself. I had risen to the top of American politics at a young age, the age of 41. I was elected to the House at 29, and beat a sixteen-year incumbent. I was elected to the Senate when I was 33, defeating an eighteen-year incumbent who was a political giant at that time in the State of Indiana. I was nominated to be my party's Vice-President at the age of 41. I had an upward momentum, I was at the top and I had always received very favourable press, even from the National Press. So what happened to me was totally unexpected. It just came out of the blue. I hesitated. I showed that hesitation, and unfortunately hesitating and not trusting myself became part of the rationale to create this caricature of me. And that's a very valuable lesson, one that doesn't apply just to politics. It applies to life. You have to make the decisions. You have to know what you can do, what you are willing to do, and then trust yourself. You can get advice, you can have people around you but ultimately, you are the message. You're the one. I write about this and I talk about it.
There are some political lessons to be learned from my writing about what happened to me. Lesson one: in politics you cannot adopt your opponents' objective and expect to win. That is clearly what happened with us in the 1992 campaign. We unfortunately adopted Bill Clinton's agenda. And his agenda was that the economy's stupid. That was the bumper sticker, that was what it was about. The Republican campaign bought into this, and convinced the President and others that it was the only thing that we could talk about. In other words, don't mention foreign policy because that would be perceived as George Bush not getting it. Well, now we're finding out that foreign policy is quite important when you elect a president of the United States. But the campaign went so far as to suggest that the President shouldn't see heads of state because he would be perceived as paying attention to foreign policy when the economy was the prime concern. That was their agenda. Our agenda should have been: "Here is a president who has delivered as president, and here's what he will do for the next four years." But we never got to what we would do for the next four years. We got bogged down in polling data and focus groups, with no communication strategy.
Another lesson to be learned in politics is: when the campaign chairman is to be selected for a presidential campaign, do not select a pollster. Pollsters are important and they are very good, but pollsters don't make decisions. They're not paid to make decisions, they're paid to feed information. They'll tell you, "Well, here's what the data is. You can go this way or that way." They just don't make decisions. Still it is a profession that we respect, and it is very important.
I wrote the outline of the book right after the election in 1992 and the book pretty much follows along the short outline. It's a story. There are a lot of interesting chapters in the book. One chapter is called "Meeting the Media" which is followed by another chapter called "Feeding Frenzy." You can see where that one's going. I do have a chapter in there about Murphy and me. You can guess what that one's about. As a matter of fact, I put the whole so-called Murphy Brown speech into the appendix. I put in that speech, the lawyer's speech and a speech that I made on the moral justification of a nation going to war. Those are the three major speeches that I made in my four years, so I just put them in the book. Especially the so-called Murphy Brown speech that everyone knows about today. And you had that one non-controversial line in the speech that got all the attention. The speech was, as Warren said, about the poverty of values. I was lamenting that in America today we are gripped by a poverty of values. We can see the families breaking down; we can, in effect, see civilization in some sectors of our society breaking down and disappearing before us, and being replaced by violence and by quasi-anarchy.
What I was trying to do was to inject into the national debate a discussion of values. I had given considerable thought to this. In my career in Congress, I wrote the Job Training Partnership Act, which is employment training legislation intended to help people get jobs through education and the development of skills. Education was very important. But still more important were those who were helping these people and especially the kids. The kind of direction and attention that the kids need is never going to be delivered by just an institution or by government service. Public policy would not necessarily get us there through government action. It's really the individual accountability. And that is what I was trying to address then, and I continue to address it.
Looking at the statistics today, they've got worse since that speech I made in 1992. I could give you some statistics. This is not a political, ideological statement. These are just hard, cold statistics. A never-married female head-of-household today has an average pre-tax income of about $9,000. A head-of-household of dual wage earners, for two people in the same home, a mother and father, have a pre-tax income of $43,000. That is a huge gap. Of never-married single mothers, 65 per cent are on welfare and 40 per cent of them have not graduated from high school.
Now those are the statistics of the never-married single female head-of-households. What happens is that this generational thing repeats itself and becomes part of our culture. What we need to do is to put our children first, and to think of them and their priorities and what is in their best interests. I am to this day amazed at the amount of ridicule and abuse that I took for mentioning that perhaps it might be in the best interests of our children to be raised in intact families--not that other children can't make it and won't make it, but merely that it might be in their best interests. Unbelievable reaction.
But today, it's changed a little bit. What goes around, comes around, and even the president of the United States now agrees with me on the issue of family values. I hope that he continues this discourse. I hope that he continues the conversation because we need to have it. He's the President; I'm not. When I raised the issue he said that what the Vice-President is trying to do is to divide the country. Well, he's raising the issue now and I'm not going to say that about him. I'm going to say that this is an important issue. We have a tremendous problem of illegitimacy in America. Eighty per cent, in some sectors of our cities, are born to unwed mothers--80 per cent. Nationwide, it's almost a third. We simply cannot continue in this direction. There are some government responses, but they are limited. We can eliminate the marriage tax penalty and encourage an additional exemption for our children, indexing it to inflation and making it $8,000 instead of the $2,300 that it is now. We can radically change the welfare system, for example to deny additional benefits for having children. That shouldn't be a consideration in having children, that you are going to get more income from the government. We could perhaps start a crusade about the importance of parenting and the responsibility of the mother and the father. The fathers come into this as much as the mothers, because raising children is not just a mother's responsibility. Fathers have responsibilities as well. We can do some of those things. And we can also encourage non-governmental institutions such as the media and the entertainment industry to be supportive of our crusade, for they have a tremendous amount of impact upon our culture. What they have done in the campaign against smoking, and, in some cases, the campaign against illegal drugs, has had some success. So when we get together, we can make some progress. So I hope that the President is successful in this area of adopting a discussion on family values. He should continue that.
With regard to the Clinton administration, on the other hand, obviously I have some disagreements. I will tell you what I think about them and where we are going as a nation. I'll give credit where credit is due and say that Bill Clinton is, in fact, a much better communicator than I had supposed. He was good on the campaign stump, and he is a good extemporaneous speaker and he has adopted an in-your-face type of communication style that plays well for him on domestic matters. He doesn't care if it's on TV or on Larry King, for wherever there is a microphone, the press will be. This is a little different from the fireside chats, or when Reagan would give big speeches. There were always big crowds. Bill Clinton is just in constant communication with the American people, and on domestic matters it serves him quite well.
On the economy, the economic cycle--and I am one who watches these things fairly closely--he has caught a fairly good cycle right now. I might add that it was the 12 years of Republican rule, if you will, that set up the foundation and the pillars for this economic growth and the cycle that he has caught. The question that we have, as we head toward not necessarily '94 but '96, is whether his increased taxes and regulatory policies will interrupt this cycle and will stagnate the economy. Allan Greenspan, who has a very firm idea and fix on this, evidently (according to the Woodward book that was just written) has quite a bit of influence on Bill Clinton. The way things work in Washington, now that this is out and it is discussed how much influence that Greenspan had on Clinton, I am sure it would be diminished because that's just the way that Washington works.
But be that as it may, the economy is fairly solid right now. Actually that is very good for Canada right now. We receive 83 per cent of your exports, so that's good news for you. You'll be exporting more to the United States as we continue to grow. My caution is in one area, and that is the whole health-care debate that is raging in our country, and the impact that it will have on small business. I don't know what the outcome will be. I am convinced that a piece of the health-care legislation will probably pass, and it will pass because Bill Clinton and the House Democrats have made this their issue. There is no way that they can return home for the elections this fall and blame it on the Republicans, unless the Republicans get bogged down (which they won't do) and have extended debate in the Senate. But the Republicans are not going to get into an extended debate. It will pass at some time if the Democrats get together. I can't tell you what it will be.
My hunches are that a fairly serious small business exemption will be a part of it, that the mandates that will be provided by the government will be phased in and that the benefit package that will be also entailed by this will also be phased in so that Congress will be able to have it both ways when they return for elections.
That is one of the reasons that I am violently opposed to our government running our health-care system. Our government running the health-care system with 17 per cent of the GDP is simply not going to work. Quality will be compromised. Cost will not go down, it will go up. We will not have timely access to health care. We may have access to health insurance, but we will not have timely access to health care if the government runs it in its normal bureaucratic way. It simply won't work the way it is set up. The risks are great, the stakes are quite high and the intensity is keen in Washington on this piece of legislation.
On the foreign-policy scene, I think that this is where the administration is certainly less sure-footed. You can see when they come before the cameras, notwithstanding what President Clinton did on D-Day. The performance and the speeches went fairly well; you have to give him fairly good marks for that. It was a good ceremony, and it was important for him to be part of it and to remind us of history, and to pay our respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. He had obviously some baggage to carry there. It came off reasonably well.
Having said that, on the issues that are confronting him, it's an entirely different story. He's got a full plate from North Korea, to Russia, to Bosnia, to Haiti, to Somalia. I don't think that Bill Clinton, until he became president, really thought a lot about foreign policy. I can't blame him for that. He was the Governor of Arkansas, and, as the Governor of Arkansas, he just wasn't involved in all that much foreign policy. I really don't think that he really understood it. I think that he is obviously a very quick learner, but I really don't know (and most people really don't know) exactly where he does come from. But I know where his advisors come from, and if you have a president who doesn't pay a lot of attention to foreign policy, or is not terribly steeped or well-versed in it, you have to go to the advisors to try to ascertain where the administration is going to go. And if you look at Warren Christopher, or Strobe Talbott or Tony Lake or Mr. Tarnoff (who is the number three at the State Department), you find a foreign policy team that has bought into the intellectual argument that America's best days are behind us. It comes right out of Paul Kennedy's book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which argues that America isn't the strong and respected nation that it once was, especially in the 1950s and 1960s and that we are on a declining curve. Those of us that come from a different intellectual viewpoint call those people the declinists. I actually believe that is the philosophical and intellectual underpinning of this administration. If I am correct, then you will continue to see a president and an administration that will be indecisive, that will not be terribly determined to take on some of the very tough issues. You cannot, in foreign policy, lead by consensus. You have to lead by asserting your viewpoint and by hoping that others will follow. Eventually they will.
Look at the situation in North Korea. President Clinton has, in fact, moved in the right direction in trying to get the National Security Council of the United Nations to go along with the sanctions against North Korea. I think that you would even have to take it a step further, and say to the North Koreans: "If you are going to transfer the technology that other nations could use to deploy a nuclear weapon, we simply will deny you that opportunity if we learn about it." North Korea has got to be quarantined. We have to understand that totalitarian leaders sometimes do what they say they are going to do. Go back and re-read about the Second World War. Hitler said a lot of outrageous things, but he did them. These people, these despots, sometimes do what they say they are going to do. Saddam Hussein is another. He kept telling us that he was going to take Kuwait. Mubarek didn't believe him, King Saud didn't believe him, the leaders in the Middle East convinced us that it wasn't going to happen, but he did what he said he was going to do. And Kim El Sung is no exception. He's 81 or 82 years old; we don't know what the succession of power is going to be. He will probably try to transfer it to his son, but that is going to be very difficult with the present military and political situation in North Korea. So we have to be very much on edge.
I think that we're coming in that direction. And China is obviously going to be helpful. She has to be. Japan is important in this equation, and yet our relations with both of those countries have been less than admirable. Manufacturing a trade crisis with Japan and walking out of press conferences is not the way to conduct diplomacy. You just don't do it that way. It may be what the pollsters say to do, because it plays to American Puritan interests that we don't like Japanese imports and that we would rather be exporting to Japan. That's fine. But you don't do it in front of the world with the Prime Minister there. That's just simply immature, and not a way to conduct foreign policy and serious business.
With Russia, I think that Clinton's instincts are a little better than some of the advice that he has received. He responded favourably toward Yeltsin when Yeltsin's was in trouble, recognizing that Yeltsin was the duly democratic leader of Russia. But, I can assure you that the future leaders of Russia are looking to Bosnia and the resolution of the Bosnian issue very keenly, and they can see the indecisiveness there. You either decide that you are going to do something or you are not going to do something. If you want a policy of containment, then announce it as a policy of containment. But one day, it's a policy of containment, the next day, it's a policy of air strikes, then it's not air strikes, then it's the United Nations imposing certain targets, then it's not imposing certain targets. If you are going to get into this like we are now, then you have to resolve it. You can make the argument about whether you should have got into it in the first place and had more of a policy of containment, lifting the arms embargo to the Bosnian Muslims and levelling the playing field. That would have been far more preferable, in my judgment, to our current policy.
But Russia, mind you, is watching this very, very closely. The leader after Yeltsin, though I do not know whom he will be, will be less democratic and more authoritarian, and will have a vision of a greater Russia rather than a Russia the way it is today. Boris Yeltsin is actually a reformer, and someone who believes in democracy and democratic values to some extent. Recognise also that having a democratically elected president is a real exception in Russian history. This is not the normal Russia. Now we are very hopeful. We ought to be very much of a partner now in seeing that Russia does not turn back to the way that it has been in the past. But, if it does, are we prepared to deal with it? Russia has always been a competitor. Yes, they can be a friend, and yes, we can have good relations with them but they are a competitor. They are a competitor of ours, they have been a competitor of Europe and that is history. That is not going to change. They are always going to be competitors. Having indecisiveness in an administration that leads in foreign policy by consensus rather than statesmanship sends some very mixed messages to future leaders of Russia.
So you have this uncertainty. And yet, in our own hemisphere with respect to Haiti, we have a foreign policy to Haiti that is dictated by domestic policy. There is absolutely no reason at all why we would seriously contemplate invading Haiti to reinstate Aristide, as President of Haiti. There are absolutely no national security interests to compel us to put our troops at risk to reinstate this question: during the blockades, who's got stronger and who's got weaker? The military has got stronger. They are stronger today than they were six months ago. We have, in fact, done the following by having more sanctions and the blockade. We have increased poverty, increased unemployment, and increased starvation. We ought to be talking about lifting the sanctions and moving toward a political settlement to get the Haitian people back to work, to develop a middle class, and to let them reclaim their government. That's what we should be doing, and it's almost the opposite of what we are doing today. I submit to you that it is largely driven by a domestic policy agenda.
Where the Republican Party will go in the future is of great debate today, obviously. The Republicans are going through the normal out-of-party syndrome, as it were. They have a lot of speakers. We were accustomed to having the President and the Vice-President there. We had that for 12 years. Today we don't have that. Unfortunately, the political cycle is this: the out-party only gets news when you are negative and criticizing, and therefore, when you put forth a positive agenda, it's not necessarily news because you are not in power. That is the way the system works. The Republicans will have to come to grips, and I think that we will, on what our issues will be. I am convinced that our issues will be less taxation, less government, radical reform in welfare, choice in education, health-care reform as access to health insurance and not as mandated, socialized government intervention, family values, an anti-crime approach and a return to a respected and credited foreign policy. Nineteen eighty-four, I am convinced, will be a good year for Republicans. There is no doubt in my mind that we will pick up a significant number of seats in Congress. It will be hard for us to get a majority in the Senate, but we will pick up a number of seats to come close to a majority. The real issue, I think, is going to be in the House this year. I look for much larger gains than expected. The conventional wisdom indicates an increase of about 15 members will be the increase. I think that it will be much larger than that. The Republicans last ran the House of Representatives in 1954. I think that everybody, or most people in America, believe that one-party rule and oneparty dictatorship is not necessarily that good for you. That would be a great bumper sticker. I'm sure that Newt Gingrich and the folks in the Republican leadership will be quite creative in communicating this message. The American people will vote for congressmen more on the individual than on the party, so that this time we might be able to make the party and the White House more accountable.
I'm convinced that our relationship with Canada will continue to be very good. We don't have any outstanding matters, other than a few trade matters and tariff matters and things like that. But we'll resolve those through amiable conversations. We'll work this all out. Our real friction is in sports. And I just want to conclude that, when you get that basketball team, don't forget about my great Indiana Pacers.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Sonja Bata, Director, Bata Limited.