I believe his Tutor was Uncle Teddy. Probably taught him how to drive, too.
The United States Senate
Congressional Record, [Page: S10981]
September 07, 1993
Mr. DANFORTH. Mr. President, I have an overwhelming, almost insurmountable predisposition to confirm presidential nominees, virtually any nominees. Because of this predisposition, I did not think it necessary to visit with Dr. Elders when she offered to come to my office. But she did come, and we did visit, and I am glad we did. For that visit makes it possible, just barely, for me to vote to confirm Dr. Elders.
An office visit of 20 minutes to half an hour is, of course, scant basis for an informed judgment on a nominee. But when one has a strong predisposition to confirm, one grabs a t any straw and indulges any presumption. So I will presume and hope that what I saw in Dr. Elders during that visit was an accurate impression of the person.
I found Dr. Elders startlingly unqualified for the position of Surgeon General. To me she seemed at once unthinking and dazzled by her own persona. When I asked what the most important thing was that she wanted to accomplish as Surgeon General, she said `education.' She was not speaking of health education or medical education--just education. This is an important subject, to be sure. The problem is that it is not within the portfolio of Surgeon General.
She then changed subjects and announced that she did not want any unwanted babies to come into the world. I understand that Dr. Elders is aggressiv ely pro-choice, as is the President. I am pro-life, but that difference for me would not decide on a confirmation vote. But Dr. Elders seemed to be announcing a position beyond pro-choice and verging on a search and destroy mission of the unwanted. This in the office of a pro-life Senator.
At the end of the meeting, I inquired about buttons Dr. Elders and her ento urage were wearing. The logo was a lightning bolt. She told me she had said to some assemblage that if they would be the thunder, she would be the lightning.
At the end of the meeting, my intention to vote for the nominee was unshaken. Dr. Elders struck me as unimpressive and foolish, but I do not think the republic will fall if our next Surgeon General is unimpressive and foolish.
Nor was I shaken by various claims I later heard about Dr. Elders' liberalism. Philosophy is to be a matter of Presidential prerogative. For 8 months, President Clinton has gone out of his way to identify himself with the left wing of the Democratic party. He deserves an administration with whom he is philosophically comfortable.
I have one concern and only one about Dr. Elders that has led me to consider opposing her confirmation. That concern is her statements that could be construed as religious bigotry. She has attacked the Catholic Church as `celibate' and `male dominated.' She has called abortion opponents, `non-Christians with slave master mentalities.' She has appeared to combine religious intolerance with behavioral tolerance saying, `We've taught our children in driver's education what to do in the front seat, and now we've got to teach them what to do in the back seat.'
I have no doubt that had a white Catholic male made statements comparable to those of Dr. Elders, such a nomi nee would have no chance of confirmation. The good reason for this is that bigotry and racism have no place in our society, and certainly none in our Government.
But, as we must be quick to condemn intolerance, so we must be slow to attribute intolerance where none is intended.
This is a point I tried to make on the floor just after our votes on whether to extend patent protection for the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Certainly, it is possible to construe statements by Dr. Elders as religious bigotry. And under such a construction she should be defeated. But I choose to believe, on the basis of my short visit with her, that offense should not be taken, because no bigotry was intended. I choose to believe that the person who made the statements about the Catholic Church and about pro-life, religious people, was the same person I thought I saw in my office, and that she made them without thinking. I choose to believe that Dr. Elders is foolhardy and that she loves the sound of her own voice. Those, to me, are not sufficient obstacles to confirmation.
I will vote to confirm Dr. Elders.
Former Waco special counsel John Danforth privately assured Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno that she did "exactly the right thing" when she ordered U.S. Army tanks to begin pumping tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in Waco