Pols vs. Video Games

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While Hillary Clinton is taking on the video game Grand Theft Auto for its sex scenes, she's far from the only Democratic member of Congress who is appealing to the Mom and Dad Vote. Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln has introduced a bill to stop adult websites from marketing adult pornography to children, calling for requirements that the sites verify the age of users, a new federal fund to battle child pornography and a 25% tax on Internet pornography transactions. Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois is working on legislation to provide funding to help states track child molesters through Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. A group of senators is talking about forming a "Parents Caucus" that would discuss issues central to family life. "Popular culture and society are undercutting what you're doing as a parent," says Emanuel.

Democrats aren't new to these issues. Clinton and Connecticut Senator Lieberman, who lambasted Mortal Kombat, highlighted violent games more than a decade ago. But members feel the party has ignored these issues in recent years, allowing Republicans to seize the high ground on moral values. "I think they forget about it," says Barbara Whitehead, who heads the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University and has advised Democrats on some of these issues. Expect to hear more of these ideas from Democrats, particularly those affiliated with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, of which Clinton, Emanuel and Lincoln are all members. Michele Stockwell, a DLC staffer, has suggested Democrats come out with more family-friendly policy proposals, such as limiting marketing aimed at kids in public schools, requiring broadcasters to air more programs for children and limiting ads for alcohol and R-rated movies on TV shows that are watched by lots of children.

Many of these proposals aren't likely to go anywhere, with Congress focused on the budget, Social Security and other issues. But that may not be the point. While running for reelection in 1996, President Clinton advocated teen curfews, school uniforms and v-chips. Little of those ideas became law, but they helped him appeal to parents and win the race.