Jan. 17, 2001
In an era when we have endured so much scandal, so much
embarrassingly improper behavior by high public officials, one might
have reasonably predicted that Senator John Ashcroft would be the least
controversial of all George W. Bush's Cabinet nominations. Ashcroft
has the cleanest record of any of the nominees.
Ashcroft is known as a man of honor and integrity, respected by
both friends and ideological opponents. In the many times he ran for
public office, no enemies ever produced a scent of scandal.
Do the prevailing powers in Washington, D.C. feel threatened by
the very presence of a man who can't be bought with sex or money and
who has no past liaisons with which he can be blackmailed? Do they
feel uncomfortable with a man whose most playful escapade is singing in
a barbershop quartet?
To use a famous political line uttered in another context, "Have
the Democrats no sense of decency?"
There probably has never been a man nominated for Attorney General
with better qualifications for the post. If one were to write a job
description for U.S. Attorney General, it would be John Ashcroft's
resume: law professor, two-term state attorney general, two-term
governor, U.S. Senator serving on the Judiciary Committee.
Ashcroft has another asset that makes him particularly qualified
in the 21st century and will mark a dramatic turnaround in the
technology area from the current Administration. Ashcroft is a leading
defender of the right of individuals to use computers and email without
the sort of government spying advocated by Janet Reno and Louis Freeh.
Where are all those liberals who have been saying that
qualifications are the only factor that matters, that we should never
use an ideological litmus test? Are they fearful that John Ashcroft
will clean out Janet Reno's corrupt Justice Department?
The most insulting question being asked is, will Ashcroft enforce
the law? Ashcroft is obviously a man who believes deeply in the rule
of law. The Democrats' real fear is that he will enforce the law
instead of bending it for partisan political purposes as Janet Reno has
done, or bypassing it altogether as Bill Lann Lee has done.
The liberals are trying to make a case against Ashcroft for voting
against one of Clinton's nominees to the federal bench, Ronnie White.
As a state judge, he had voted to overturn the death penalty for a
notoriously vicious murderer, James R. Johnson (who happens to be
Ronnie White's confirmation was predictably and vehemently opposed
by the Missouri law enforcement community. The Democrats are trying to
change this clear law-and-order issue into allegations of "racism" and
other inflammatory epithets, but the facts of the case are not in
Johnson killed a deputy sheriff in the back of the head and then
shot him in the forehead to make sure he was dead. Then Johnson drove
to the home of the sheriff and fired a semiautomatic rifle five times
at the sheriff's wife while she was leading a prayer service; she died
in front of her family.
Johnson then went to the sheriff's office, shot the sheriff four
times and killed him. A female deputy sheriff happened to arrive at
the office and Johnson shot her as she was getting out of her car; she
died on the pavement.
Johnson was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and
sentenced to death. Judge White disagreed.
Every single Republican in the Senate voted against rewarding
Judge White with lifetime tenure on the federal court, and their vote
had nothing to do with racism. Actually, the Republicans should have
voted against most of Clinton's nominees because they are reliably
activist liberals who have passed his pro-abortion litmus test.
If voting against a black judicial nominee is "racist," then it's
also fair to call "racist" the Democratic Senators who voted against
Clarence Thomas in 1991. Twenty-two of them are still in the Senate.
When the Ashcroft nomination was announced, his Senate colleagues
generally spoke well of him and the big Missouri radio station (which
had relentlessly urged the voters to vote for a dead man instead of
Ashcroft on November 7) was unable to find any Democratic Senator to do
an on-air interview against him. Former Illinois Senator Paul Simon
said about Ashcroft, "He'll call it straight and I don't think any
political pressures are going to force him into doing something that he
thinks is wrong."
Ever since (but certainly not before) George W. Bush was
proclaimed President-elect, the Democrats have been bleating about the
Republicans' obligation to be "bipartisan." So Trent Lott and the
Senate Republicans gave them a sweetheart deal of 50 percent Democrats
on each Senate committee and 50 percent of Senate committee funding.
The assault on Ashcroft shows that the Daschle Democrats have no
intention of being bipartisan or even fair or civil. "Bipartisanship"
is a one-way street that leads to policy and personnel victories for