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One proposal, federal support of school uniforms, which was endorsed by the New Democratic policy advisers Bruce Reed and Rahm Emanuel, did not test well. Penn and Morris were reluctant to include it. (There wasn't room for ideas that didn't test well, Morris said. Polls showed that people didn't want a speech longer than 40 minutes.) But Emanuel and Reed took the matter to Clinton. The President had talked to Attorney General Janet Reno, who had recently returned from Long Beach, California, where school uniforms were being used to combat delinquency."I want it in," Clinton told them. "And here's how I'm going to say it." He scribbled down: "If it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms." On the night of the speech, that line received more applause and plaudits than any other.
"You're like a piece of wood," Morris told Penn. "I keep pushing you to the bottom of the lake, but you pop right back up."
Morris couldn't stomach Penn's new prominence. And Penn couldn't stomach Morris. From the start, the strategist had sought to repress Penn, and Penn had come to resent Morris' taking credit for his values ideas. But Morris couldn't contain Penn. Inside the White House, Penn developed a reputation as "the consultant who's not radioactive," as Stephanopoulos put it. Penn set up a jury-rigged workspace in a walk-in closet in Sosnik's West Wing basement office. This triggered Morris' paranoia, and when Penn had a one-on-one meeting with Clinton in the Oval Office a few days before the State of the Union, Morris blew a gasket. He summoned Penn and Schoen to his house in Connecticut and told Penn that Clinton was his client, the White House his show. Penn could submit or get out. Morris laid down a new law: Penn could see anyone in the White House except the President. (Later, Morris came up with an even stricter rule: Penn had to be at Morris' side at every interminable, Morris-dominated meeting.) Schoen, the peacemaker, advised his partner to accept. "You do what you're doing," he told Penn. "I'll deal with Dick."
After the State of the Union, Baer drew up a list of every idea mentioned in the speech, matching each one with a specific policy proposal and a media event to communicate it. The result was two months' worth of policies, often with two or three events a week. The campaign model, duplicated again and again, was a low-cost proposal to strengthen communities accompanied by a bully-pulpit road show featuring Good Neighbor Bill. Everything was coming up values. Morris began cherry-picking good new ideas throughout the Executive Branch, using his unmatched zeal to push them to fruition. The West Wing became a floating policy meeting that gave way to a scheduling meeting that segued into a message-development meeting. Clinton loved the values assembly line. "Where were you boys in 1994?" he said to one of the consultants in April. "Could have used y'all then."
GIRDING FOR BATTLE
Clinton turned beet red. "That's a lie!" he yelled at the TV monitor sitting in front of him in the Yellow Oval Room. "That's a damned lie!"