March 8, 2013
The media is treating former President Bill Clinton's reversal on marriage as a "road to Damascus" conversion. It gets breathless treatment on AOL ("Bill Clinton's Stunning Reversal") They go on to relate that the ex-philanderer-in-chief now condemns the law he signed.
Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in May, 1996. His press secretary, Mike McCurry, sneered that it was a hateful piece of legislation. And the spokesman noted the president signed it in the middle of the night. That was intended, we presume, to indicate a level of disdain with which Bill Clinton regarded the bill he felt compelled to sign.
We didn't yet know that the middle of the night was Bill Clinton's most active period. Rather like a hamster running on his wheel.
That fall, running for re-election against former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole (R), the Clinton-Gore campaign took out ads on Christian radio stations bragging that President Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act. This clear act of hypocrisy led to this exchange with the White House press corps:
Q: What about this ad that the DNC apparently took down that was running on Christian stations where the President apparently bragged about -- he bragged about the President's vote against gay and lesbian marriages? You're not sure about whether you want to brag about what the President did on that?
MR. [Joe] LOCKHART: Well, I think the ad was up for several days and factually stated the President's opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.
Q: Is that turning into a problem?
The press corps laughed at that reporter's rejoinder. So, Clintons' spokesmen tell the journalists that the campaign ad spoke "factually" about Mr. Clinton's opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.
The law he had just signed.
You get the picture. Tell the Christians he signed it and he is proud of it. Tell the reporters he's opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act.
This is the man who said, under oath, "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is."
I had the honor of working with Family Research Council's leaders on this issue. Our president, Gary Bauer, and our lead policy analyst, Bob Knight, deserve the high credit of pressing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) through Congress. My role was limited to naming it the Defense of Marriage Act.
When friendly Senate staffers came to FRC and asked if it was OK to re-name the bill the Definition of Marriage Act, I strenuously objected. No, we must educate people when they hear the name of the bill that marriage itself is under attack.
Now, we know why that law was named as it was.
"Bill Clinton has no shame." I didn't say that. George Stephanopoulos said it. Stephanopoulos was Clinton's first Communications Director. He should know. He said that's a great advantage in politics.
Why did Bill Clinton sign the Defense of Marriage Act? We had succeeded in amassing an overwhelming level of support in both Houses of Congress. The Defense of Marriage Act passed by 342-67 in the House of Representatives and by 85-14 in the Senate. We could have passed the Defense of Marriage Act without a single Republican vote in either Chamber.
Bill Clinton looked at that overwhelming support and had to consider this:
"If I veto this bill, they can pass it over my veto and make me look weak."
"And then, I won't be able to brag to Christian voters that I signed it."
Bill Clinton has never before been confused with Paul on the Road to Damascus. Or with any other saint, for that matter. I used to tell my students the difference between Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
The former left office in disgrace. The latter entered office in disgrace.
Now, he is even disgracing his former presidency.