This Week

Issue: "End of the innocence," Jan. 30, 1999

Seducing the soccer moms

With impeachment hanging thick in the air of the Capitol, Bill Clinton took a deep breath and made the final State of the Union speech of the 20th century. His hour-and-17-minute-long address showed again why so many baby boomers find him irresistible. In a gift-giving frenzy that would make Monica Lewinsky jealous, the president divvied up the projected budget surplus with lavish promises of something for everyone, purportedly paid for by someone else. Mr. Clinton repeatedly reminded his listeners of all that they deserve: a worry-free retirement, a flexible work schedule, the doctor of their choice, a college education, a brand new school building for their children, even subsidized prescription drugs. These are things that all Americans are entitled to, he insisted. Almost every item in the presidential goodie bag was intended for the middle class. But this new category of entitlements will ultimately prove much costlier than the old Great Society version of entitlements, which were intended for the relatively few Americans living in poverty. If Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, Bill Clinton may be remembered as the Great Seducer-and not just because of the current scandal. For six years he has flirted with the middle class, asking them to hug the Big He, the federal government, while claiming all the time the innocence of his intentions. Once voters are hooked, demands for entitlements increase. Next year, watch for subsidized soccer uniforms.

Survey says...

The American Medical Association has never been shy about injecting itself into political debates such as abortion. But the debate over presidential sex, evidently, is another story. Dr. George Lundberg, editor of the association's journal for 17 years, was abruptly fired after publishing an eight-year-old "what-is-sex?" survey (by the largely discredited Kinsey Institute) to coincide with President Clinton's impeachment trial. The article reported that 59 percent of college students surveyed in 1991 shared the president's rather narrow definition of what it meant to actually "have sex." Dr. Lundberg was sacked for "inexcusably interjecting JAMA into the middle of a debate that has nothing to do with science or medicine," according to an AMA official. In apologizing for the article, the AMA admitted that the timing of publication was motivated by "sensationalism, not journalism."

Bauer power

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Gary Bauer moved one step closer to a White House bid when he resigned as president of the Family Research Council on Jan. 15. An acknowledged longshot, Mr. Bauer is at least a fundraising powerhouse. His PAC, the Campaign for Working Families (CWF), raised some $7 million last year-one of the best records in Washington. Mr. Bauer's nascent campaign got a boost when Michael Reagan, the former president's son, announced he would take over as head of CWF in February.

Fight or makeup?

A cross-dressing civilian Air Force employee is battling the military brass because his squadron commander expected him to dress like a man. The unidentified airfield management specialist was ordered to stop wearing his makeup, bra, and earrings to work. He charges that violates his rights, and he wants an apology. Supervisors at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida first brought up the employee's attire in July 1996. Air Force records show that from time to time a civilian supervisor asked the man to try to appear less feminine. Then in October 1998, the commander of the 46th Operations Support Squadron gave the employee a written reprimand and ordered him to stop wearing women's clothing at work. That was too much discrimination for the man to bear, so the American Federation of Government Employees filed a complaint against the military forcing him to dress like a man. The union local claims his supervisors are trying to establish regulations not allowed by the collective bargaining contract. The transvestite says he has been dressing like a woman since he started his job at Eglin's Base Operations Center in Florida, and doesn't want to change his costume now. Not only does he demand an apology, he wants the reprimand removed from his file, and $580,000 in damages as well. That would buy a lot of lipstick.

Sins of the past

Daniel L. Crocker, 38, who in Christian conscience left his wife and children behind in Chantilly, Va., to confess to an unsolved 1979 murder in Kansas (WORLD, Oct. 17, 1998), was sentenced under a plea bargain to 20 to 60 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years. In an Olathe, Kan., courtroom, Mr. Crocker apologized tearfully both to his family "for embarrassing and shaming them" and to relatives of Tracy Fresquez, the 19-year-old he smothered with a pillow following an attempted rape. Mr. Crocker and his wife, Nicolette, reportedly were able to pray together twice before the sentencing. Mrs. Crocker said their two children, Isaac, 9, and Analiese, 8, who were not at the proceeding, "know what Daddy's doing is right." Although the Fresquez family had asked for the maximum penalty of life in prison, Jay Fresquez, the victim's brother, remarked: "It's a shame that the Daniel today is being punished for the animal he was 20 years ago."

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