Bauer denies wrongdoing as ex-aides charge appearance of impropriety with young campaign aide
No fire, but how thick the smoke?
It was easy to find the location of GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer's mid-morning press conference on a drizzly Sept. 29 in Washington: Just follow the thick blue cable leading from the Fox News truck parked on Massachusetts Ave. It snaked for hundreds of feet along the sidewalk, around the corner, into a side entrance of the upscale Wyndham Hotel, and up to a mezzanine meeting room. At the end of the umbilical was a camera that would carry the proceedings live. More than a dozen other networks and stations also had cameras set up in the room. By 10 a.m., all 40 seats in the small room were filled, and other reporters and broadcasters were elbowing into position along the walls. Someone suggested the fire marshal might call off the whole thing, prompting a round of chuckles. Journalists had heard the reports of smoke surrounding Mr. Bauer, an evangelical on leave as head of the Family Research Council (FRC). Two former top aides-Charlie Jarvis and Tim McDonald-have gone on the record with complaints that Mr. Bauer had met in lengthy sessions with a 27-year-old female aide behind closed doors. The reporters wanted to ask if the existence of such smoke meant that there was fire, and Mr. Bauer came out fighting. He charged he had been the target of "character assassination" for the past six weeks. The rumors, he said, were "disgusting, outrageous, evil, and sick-trash-can politics at its worst." Because the rumors had spread so widely and were beginning to attract comment in the media, Mr. Bauer said he felt compelled to address them publicly. He denied that he ever had violated his marriage vows and charged that the rumors were being spread by a rival candidate's campaign (later in the day he specified the Forbes campaign). Mr. Bauer's family-Carol, his wife of 27 years, along with their two daughters and their junior-high son-stood stiffly behind him on his right throughout his 45-minute question-and-answer session. Asked whether his long-time secretary had resigned out of displeasure with his actions, Mr. Bauer said he would not try to speak for her. He stated that the aide at the heart of the rumors-Melissa McClard, the campaign's deputy campaign manager and FRC transplant-was still on the campaign staff. A TV reporter raised the "appearances" issue. Wasn't Mr. Bauer aware of sensitivity in evangelical circles toward closed-door fraternization between sexes? Had he spent such time with the young aide? Mr. Bauer said he is not a minister, and that times have changed: "This is 1999, not 1899." He said the ranks of professionals include women as well as men, and conferring with them behind closed doors is "the way it's done" in the corporate and political world. Mr. Bauer said he has spent time in private with all of his staff members, including Miss McClard: "Yes, I have met behind closed doors in my campaign headquarters with every member of my campaign staff at one time or another." After the press conference, a senior campaign official who requested anonymity acknowledged that Mr. Bauer on occasion also had traveled alone with Miss McClard, but always "in public, amid dozens of witnesses." Soon, Mr. Bauer and his chief critic, Mr. Jarvis, were calling Rush Limbaugh's talk show and appearing on television news programs; Mr. Jarvis, a former executive with James Dobson's Focus on the Family, last month resigned as Bauer's campaign chairman and announced his support for Steve Forbes. Mr. Bauer insisted that there was no fire, and that the smoke was actually second-hand, a Clinton leftover that had no relevance to him. But Mr. Jarvis stated repeatedly that Mr. Bauer should have had the wisdom to avoid the appearance of potential problems, and certainly should have taken action when dedicated aides told him that suspicion was growing. By the conclusion of the frantic media day, a strange coalition had developed. Liberal reporters seemed to be supporting the position of Mr. Bauer, whom they had ordinarily portrayed as a right-wing adversary. They were noting that Mr. Jarvis and other resigned aides were not charging adultery, but merely complaining about appearances, as if this were 1899, not 1999. Some evangelicals, however, expressed concerns about Mr. Bauer's judgment and the way that appearances could create suspicion of the kind helpful to the basic Clinton defense during the impeachment debate and thereafter: "They all do it." Nor was it clear that the moral standards of 1999 are necessarily superior to those of 1899. U.S. ceos cover their eyes in beijing
All the official iron-fistedness in the days leading up to the big Oct. 1 parade fit perfectly what the event commemorated: 50 years of totalitarian rule in China. "From noon on September 30, the area inside the second ring road will be under strict traffic control, virtually a forbidden zone," said police instructions handed to tenants along the main avenue leading to Tiananmen Square. Businesses in central Beijing were shuttered on Sept. 30 and tourists were ordered out of hotels along the parade route for the 50th annual National Day event. Only China's top brass could actually survey the festivities. A select group of peasants, workers, and students was chosen to portray the masses, attending lengthy rehearsals of slogan-shouting in the weeks leading up to the event. But for most Chinese, the area surrounding Tiananmen Square has become a Forbidden City. Protocols on security could not hide an ideological insecurity. State-run television issued ever-lengthening segments of sloganeering leading up to National Day. Broadcasters prepared "coverage" of the event well in advance. Two days before National Day, the government yanked Time, Newsweek, and Asiaweek from circulation in China. Their timing was embarrassing for 200 American CEOs who gathered in Shanghai the same week to fete government leaders. The forum was sponsored by Fortune magazine, whose parent company, Time-Warner, also publishes Time and Asiaweek. The day before his magazines were pulled, Time-Warner chairman Gerald Levin had presented Chinese President Jiang Zemin with a bust of Abraham Lincoln and toasted him as "my good friend." Other execs, smelling money more than trouble, were supportive of Beijing. Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom (which owns MTV and has announced plans to acquire CBS), chided journalists for being "unnecessarily offensive" to their host country. Insurance head Maurice Greenberg criticized American media for challenging China's definition of human rights. Mr. Greenberg, chairman of American International Group, said, "Feeding, clothing, and sheltering 1.2 billion people is a big job. They're living better than at any time in their history. That's human rights." WORLD in brief
Turkey: papers criticize gov't, defend church
Even Turkey's Muslim papers berated government officials for taking action against a Protestant church with a 20-year history in Izmir, a port on the Aegean that is also host to a U.S. air base. The conservative Muslim daily Zaman criticized a Sept. 12 raid on the church. An editorial called the intrusion, where 40 worshippers were arrested and held for a day, something "hardly found in the 16th century," and "unbecoming to our government." Despite a high-level meeting between Turkey's Interior Minister and local Protestant leaders a week ago, Izmir Fellowship's building remains sealed, reported Compass Direct. Turkish media have given the incident unusual coverage for the Muslim-dominated nation. Three daily papers editorialized against the government, including one newspaper columnist who questioned police motives: "The apparent 'crime' was to be both a Turk and a Christian." Central America: Mitch Anniversary
Nearing the anniversary of Central America's tangle with Hurricane Mitch, its victims are again overcome by heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides. Eleven people have died from the recent weather in Honduras, and as many as 13,000 are being evacuated from Mitch-struck areas near San Pedro Sula. Honduras has been under a state of emergency since Sept. 18. Russia: attacks follow public opinion backlash against Chechens
As Russian air forces completed a week of bombing in Chechnya, military officials in Moscow said they were making preparations for a ground assault against the Russian republic. The offense was an answer to Chechen incursions into Dagestan in August and September. It was also timed to correspond with a wave of unpopular opinion toward Chechens, who are blamed for terrorist attacks in Moscow that have killed over 300 people in the last month. Russia fought an unpopular war against Chechnya in 1994-96, which ended with an agreement allowing further autonomy to the republic. Yugoslavia: Serbs crush Belgrade protest
Serb riot police, wielding batons, dispersed up to 30,000 protesters marching toward the Belgrade area where Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic lives and works. Some of the protesters were beaten. Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told Reuters the police action showed Mr. Milosevic had lost his nerve: "He made this protest a popular uprising because you use such force only when you see the protests as a big threat to your regime." Anti-Milosevic demonstrators have marched in cities throughout Serbia in recent weeks, blaming the Yugoslav leader for growing economic hardships and international isolation following a decade of Balkan wars. The No-Comment Zone
- Until last month, Robert Beck was king of the Miss America Pageant and its young princesses. But he lost his crown just days after the 50-year ban on contestants who've been married or had abortions was halted. The new rules are now shelved, but the boss is out of his $250,000 job. The move was initially recommended not by the now-unemployed Beck but by Steven Perskie, a pageant lawyer who was asked to update the contestant contract signed by Miss America hopefuls.
- For President Clinton, thanks were in order all around: to his wife, his daughter, his colleagues, a majority of Americans, and "the God in whom I believe" for helping him skate past removal from office after the House impeached him last winter. Mr. Clinton delivered his remarks at his annual prayer breakfast at the White House. "I have been profoundly moved as few people have by the pure power of grace," he said. "Unmerited forgiveness through grace."
- All in a day's work, a federal appeals court struck down laws banning partial-birth abortion in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals considered the three states' laws together because of their similarity; Judge Richard Arnold spoke for the panel when he declared, echoing language liked by the Supreme Court, that the laws improperly place "an undue burden on the right of women to choose whether to have an abortion." The 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, will eventually consider a Missouri partial-birth law, passed last month and immediately challenged in a lower court. Nineteen of 28 state laws against partial-birth abortion have been blocked or limited by the courts.
- Can a state create and enforce a No First Amendment Zone? The Supreme Court will consider the case of three pro-life sidewalk counselors who are challenging a Colorado law that bars people from coming within eight feet of others without their consent whenever they are within 100 feet of an entrance to an abortion business. The law aims to stop sidewalk counselors from trying to talk women out of abortion at the last minute. The pro-life counselors' appeal called the law an "overbroad, content-based, viewpoint-discriminatory" prior restraint on speech.
- Newt Gingrich's political battles are over, but his divorce war is still raging. Now he's trying to keep his wife's lawyers from learning the details about his affair with House staffer Callista Bisek. Marianne Gingrich's lawyers charged in court papers that the ex-speaker "willfully failed and refused to answer" questions "concerning his personal and professional relationships as well as the finances of his marriage." They want to know about his affairs with other women and whether the one-time Republican standard bearer spent any money on his mistress. Mr. Gingrich, 56, separated from his wife of 18 years on May 10 and filed for divorce July 29. Quayle bows out
Know when to fold 'em
"There's a time to stay and there's a time to fold. There's a time to know when to leave the stage," said former Vice President Dan Quayle as he removed himself from the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Mr. Quayle cited frontrunner George W. Bush's fundraising lead and the GOP's frontloaded primary schedule as factors that "made the task for me of winning the nomination of my party virtually impossible." He is the fourth GOP nominee to turn in his chips this year, following Rep. John Kasich of Ohio, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, and Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who opted to run as an independent. Ventura spouts off in Playboy
The mouth that roars
The novelty of Jesse "The Body" Ventura as political phenomenon is starting to fade, in part because the fluke Minnesota governor is starting to lose his shock value. Consider his most recent collection of outrageous comments in an interview with Playboy: "Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers," Gov. Ventura said, according to a transcript obtained by the Associated Press. "It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business." The Reform Party's would-be political kingmaker also said he believed President Kennedy was killed by the "military-industrial complex," that legalized prostitution should be considered, and that the Navy's Tailhook sexual harassment scandal was "much ado about nothing." Dow Jones Industrial Avg. sheds over 1,000 points
Heads up! Dow's down
The Dow could have added an n to its name during September. Starting at a record peak of 11,326.04 on Aug. 25, the index of leading companies lost more than 9 percent of its value, or 1,050.51 points, through Sept. 28, finishing that day at 10,275.53. The biggest losses came during the week of Sept. 20-24, when the Dow tumbled 524.30 points. What caused the slide? Choose your poison. Analysts blamed fear of another interest-rate hike, a weakening dollar (which makes foreign investments more attractive), and sagging profits at some companies. Microsoft president Steve Ballmer also roiled financial markets by telling a conference of business journalists that a "gold rush" mentality had caused "such an overvaluation of tech stocks that it's absurd." (He included in that category the price of Microsoft stocks, which have made him a billionaire.) As for where financial markets would go next, predictions were-predictably-mixed. The calendar caused some jitters. The month of October has seen some of the worst market declines in history, such as the 1929 stock market crash and the one-day 554.26-point drop in the Dow on Oct. 27, 1997. "It's a scary time of year," said Brian Belski, an investment strategist at George K. Baum & Co. in Kansas City. "By September or October, you know where a company's fundamentals are for the year, and a lot of investment managers make their buy and sell decisions based on that." Others were more optimistic, suggesting that the Dow's weak September performance might keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates, and that lower prices could draw investors back to stocks. "Every time we come close to a 10 percent correction in the Dow, investors feel this is enough of a drop and they go back in and buy stocks," said Robert Freedman of the John Hancock Funds in Boston. NYC mayor caught in art vs. pornography battle
Rudy and the arts
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has declared war on "The Holy Virgin Mary." That's a black Madonna "decorated" with elephant dung and pornographic cutouts, and now displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Mr. Giuliani decided the obvious-that such nonsense didn't deserve to receive tax dollars-and announced he would cut the museum's funding. The cry of "Censorship!" was heard throughout the Big Apple, with representatives of the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Guggenheim all protesting the move. Political carpetbagger Hillary Clinton, who is plotting a Senate campaign with Mr. Giuliani as likely challenger, joined the fracas. Even though the issue involves art made from elephant dung, artist Chris Ofili is dead serious. Mr. Ofili said he was inspired to use elephant droppings after being emotionally moved by the wildlife of Zimbabwe. He claims it is a reference to his heritage. That's why "The Holy Virgin Mary," his 1996 collage, depicts Mary with African features and flowing robes along with shellacked clumps of elephant dung and dozens of cutouts of female private parts from porno magazines. "I don't feel as though I have to defend it," Mr. Ofili said. "The people who are attacking this painting are attacking their own interpretation, not mine." The spat has now gone to court, with the Brooklyn Museum saying Mr. Giuliani violated the First Amendment. A federal judge will decide whether the budget cut of about $7 million must be restored. City Hall lawyer Michael Hess argued on Mr. Giuliani's behalf: "There is nothing in the Constitution that says taxpayers should pay for an exhibition like this." The Supreme Court may back him up. Last year, the high court held that government may exercise a "decency standard" for funding the arts. Transsexual teacher pushes to keep job
Unfitness for service
Like a good reporter, Antelope, Calif., high-school journalism teacher David Warfield got right to the point: In April, Mr. Warfield informed Center High Principal Steve Wehr that in the fall he'd come to work as Dana Lee Rivers. Like a good principal, Mr. Wehr saw to it that Mr. Warfield was fired because of his "evident unfitness for service" as a teacher. Now, Mr. Warfield, who plans a sex-change operation, has filed a complaint with the state labor commissioner. He claims he has a disorder that causes people extreme discomfort with their sexual identity. According to the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative group, Mr. Warfield's discussion of his problems with students-and parental complaints about the discussion-prompted the school's response.