Dr. Foster, We Presume

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Seven months after his nominee for Surgeon General was blocked by anti-abortion Republicans, President Clinton appointed Dr. Henry Foster his special adviser on reducing teenage pregnancy. The move allows Clinton to install Foster as point man on an initiative that was to have been a top priority for the Surgeon General, without risking the pain of confirmation hearings. "There are two interpretations to this," says TIME's J.F.O. McAllister. "One is that this is Clinton unable to restrain himself. He wins points with conservatives for the push to rein in teen pregnancy, but then he appoints a man they strongly oppose to head up the effort. The other explanation is that this is a sop to the pro-choice lobby. Clinton is tacking to the right, but then appoints their guy to run things." Foster will not be paid for the job, although he will get an office and travel budget at the Department of Health and Human Services. "The great thing about this for Clinton," McAllister notes, "is that it costs the taxpayers very little, but it lets him look like he's really out front on family values. He got a very good response to his call to reduce teen pregnancies in his State of the Union address, and the message played very well in all the focus groups the Administration did leading up to speech. Clinton is expected to bring up this issue again at a national prayer breakfast on Thursday, and it should be a theme he hits throughout the campaign."