Of doughnuts and other election year silliness

July 30, 1996|By Rick Horowitz

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON, Any day now -- Hearkening back to an era many assumed was gone forever, President Clinton called today for America's children to treat their mothers and fathers with respect.

"Parents are people, too," Mr. Clinton told several hundred youngsters in a Rose Garden ceremony, as a brightly decorated banner bearing the same message fluttered in the breeze behind him. "Without parents, none of us would be here."

The president exhorted his young audience to "think twice, and then think again," before they talked back to their parents, and he invited community leaders across the country to devise programs that would return parents to their "rightful place" in American family life. The White House and the federal government, he said, stood ready to provide "total moral support" for their efforts.

Family values

Mr. Clinton's announcement was just the latest in a series of initiatives focusing on family and quality-of-life issues. Only last week, the president unveiled his "Don't Pick on Your Baby Sibling" program, offering donated toys and "Handle With Care" stickers as incentives for school-age children to be gentle with new arrivals in their homes. That announcement followed close on the heels of a new federal-state "Clean Up Your Room Jamboree," which White House aides say is among the most popular programs the administration has ever undertaken.

"There isn't a voting parent in the country who hasn't had to deal with exactly this problem," boasted one senior official. "It makes perfect sense for the president to throw the power of his office behind what they're trying to do."

Republican party officials, needless to say, were more skeptical, claiming that the president's recent flurry of announcements amounted to nothing more than election-year soundbites.

"He's not even spending any money on these things," one senior Republican fumed. "At least if he were spending the money, he'd show he was serious. And then we could attack him for spending the money."

Mr. Clinton seems unperturbed by his opponents' criticism, and the latest poll numbers suggest his confidence is -- for the moment, at least -- well-founded. Indeed, the president was scheduled to leave tonight for a four-day swing through the Midwest and then to California, and campaign officials pleased with Mr. Clinton's small-but-bully pulpit promised more of the same.

Clean teeth and hot dogs

Tomorrow morning in Plaqueville, Ohio, for example, the president is expected to announce a "Community Floss Partnership," encouraging all Americans to floss after every meal and handing out the first cuttings from a 50,000-yard floss ball donated by the dental-floss industry. He will then travel to Fidoburg, Mo., where city officials have established the country's most successful "Dog in the Hot Car Hotline" to rescue family pets from possible heatstroke.

There, Mr. Clinton will announce the formation of a "Panting Pet Pilot Project" to help communities nationwide respond to reports of overheated animals in shopping-mall parking lots and other high-risk areas.

Also on the schedule, though final details remain to be worked out: announcement of tough new regulations for the dry-cleaning industry. The president is said by aides to be "quite distressed" by current dry-cleaning tags that simply say a dry cleaner tried, but was unable to remove a particular stain from a garment.

Mr. Clinton will propose that dry cleaners be required to list the specific efforts they made, and to offer to try again at no additional charge to the customer. The president, aides say, also wants them to "do something about that smell."

Mr. Clinton will conclude his trip with a fundraising dinner in Honeydip, Cal., where he hopes to further reassure angry consumers by calling for the creation of a "National Donut Date-Stamp Registry."

"This president is against stale," a top Clinton adviser explained. "This president is for fresh. We've got him positioned perfectly."

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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