It was January, 1998, nearly 12 years ago, and a terrible time for our country. Bill Bennett was invited to address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Bennett appeared just days after the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal had splashed all over the front pages of the Washington Post.
Clinton had no friends among the CPAC attendees. Out in the hotel exhibit area, some of the tables were hawking crude, rude bumper stickers and tee shirts, all poking fun at the embattled Philanderer-in-Chief.
Bennett looked unusually stern. He grasped the podium and scowled out at the audience.
Bennett’s demeanor quickly sobered any merrymakers in the crowd. He seemed like a tough assistant principal called in to read the riot act to a bunch of unruly sophomore boys in Study Hall.
I never admired Bill Bennett more than I did on that day. It’s one thing to tell your political adversaries how wrong they are. It takes real courage, real character to blow the whistle on your political friends. Bennett stood tall on that day.
Our children are, in fact, still paying for most deplorable episode in our history. One of my brilliant foreign students, a young Austrian, told me during a White House tour last summer that the first time he ever heard of the Oval Office was when Bill Clinton disgraced it. How terrible for America.
The latest effort at condom-pushing in Congress—the so-called Ryan-DeLauro bill—is being touted by TIME and other media outlets as the historic compromise that will solve the problem of abortion in America. It will bring “peace in our time” in the culture wars, TIME and the bill’s pushers believe.
Well, it won’t. With the passage of a dozen years, however, we might use the tawdry Clinton-Lewinsky story to teach an important lesson: condom programs don’t work.
The idea behind condom-pushing is that if enough young people are educated enough, informed enough, and have enough “access” to condoms, they will faithfully and effectively use them to prevent unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and all other STDs.
Advocates of condom-pushing are forever treating us like the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live. “Get real,” they yell at us. They tell us over and over again that it is only America’s “puritanical” sexual mores that prevent our young people from getting the “information” and equipment they need. We are the ones who are woefully impractical and need to “get with it,” they try to convince the American people.
So let’s do a reality test of our own. Suppose we have a President who is not only an Ivy League graduate but also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford. Is that smart enough? And suppose he has “access” to all the condoms in the world. In fact, he has appointed Tim Wirth to be his Under Secretary of State. Tim keeps a supply of condoms in a silver bowl on his desk. Our leader has only to snap his fingers or press a button to have Tim come running with his silver bowl. Talk about access. As for information about condom use and effectiveness? Suppose our Chief Executive actually sends messages to Congress every year for a nearly decade touting condoms and appropriating billions of tax dollars for their distribution and use? Is thatenough information?
Yet suppose further that a 21-year old intern comes into the office of our Commander-in-Chief, bearing pizza and snapping the thong of her underwear. What then becomes of all that education, access and information? Poof! Bill Clinton never even thought about using them.
Poof and proof. Condom programs don’t work. Q.E.D.