- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2001

If John Ashcroft is to be known as an extremist because he is a man of faith; if, as his former Senate colleague Charles Schumer repeatedly intimates, he is deemed ill-equipped to enforce the law even incapable of knowing whether he is enforcing the law because of his ideological and philosophical beliefs; if the man is to be labeled a racist because, as a senator from Missouri, he opposed one black judicial nominee while supporting 26; if all these wholly spurious charges are allowed to stand in a disgraceful attempt to, first, smear an honorable and supremely distinguished man and then defeat his nomination for attorney general, it would become clear that the American mainstream is a sterile, even hostile environment.

To be sure, the Senate Judiciary Committee, under Sen. Patrick Leahy's leadership this week, seems to be just such an inhospitable place. Even before Mr. Ashcroft gave a jot of testimony, answered any questions, explained a single point of view or action, or even said howdy-do, the Senate Democrats had bayonets affixed and were on the attack. In an ill-mannered rant harkening back to that science-fictional, if slanderously effective attack on Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination, Sen. Ted Kennedy depicted an Attorney General Ashcroft as someone who would "advance his personal views in spite of the laws of the land" the baseless, indeed, fanciful implication being that Mr. Ashcroft would serve as some kind of Cabinet-level desperado in the new Bush administration. Of course, Mr. Kennedy, reprising his oft-played role as Democratic heavy in the confirmation hearings of Republican nominees, was just warming up.

Mr. Schumer, if more cordial, was hardly more temperate in his opening remarks, injecting a note of condescension into the hearings by wondering how such an "impassioned and zealous advocate" as Mr. Ashcroft could, as attorney general, "just turn it off? That may be an impossible task," said Mr. Schumer, implying that Mr. Ashcroft is constitutionally religiously? incapable of enforcing the law when it conflicts with his convictions.

One might have thought that Mr. Ashcroft had pricked most of the grossly and grotesquely inflated charges against him with his compelling opening testimony during which he emphasized his commitment to enforcing the law as written for all Americans, regardless of race, color or creed. Hardly striking an orthodox conservative pose, Mr. Ashcroft spoke of his commitment, not to a colorblind society, but rather to diversity and integration. He elaborated on his record of supporting minority appointments and nominees throughout his career, and he spoke of his opposition to racial profiling. On the incendiary issue of abortion, Mr. Ashcroft declared that, consistent with previous Republican attorneys general, he believed Roe vs. Wade to have been wrongly decided, but affirmed his unwavering acceptance of the landmark cases upholding abortion's legality.

So what's the liberals' problem? Does anyone still take seriously the charges of racism even after, say, the brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers came out for Mr. Ashcroft this week? Does anyone even a Senate Democrat genuinely worry that Mr. Ashcroft would not enforce abortion laws even after learning, for example, that he has supported a ban on violence against abortion clinics? Mr. Ashcroft has made it clear that, as attorney general, he would uphold the Constitution and the laws of the nation. After eight years of an increasingly degraded Justice Department, that would be may we say it? the department's salvation.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide