- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

Nobody plays the race card with more skill than a Southern Democrat.

The names once writ large are fading from memory now, but somewhere in that Valhalla of voodoo Gene Talmadge of Georgia, the early George Wallace of Alabama, Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi and Jeff Davis of Arkansas wait impatiently to welcome the Rev. Jesse Jackson, once of South Carolina and late of any point on the compass with opportunity for grift and scam.

Fresh from Florida, where he discovered the bodies of hundreds of black voters strewn about polling places, slain for trying to dimple their ballots, he has vowed to disrupt the inauguration of George W. Bush. After that he intends to intimidate the Senate, which is easily intimidated, to prevent the confirmation of the Bush Cabinet.

"Those who are with the civil rights agenda," he says, "must not choose collegiality over civil rights and social justice."

The noted Baptist cleric is getting some help, of course, but try as they might, his Democratic wannabes don't quite get the hang of race-baiting. Watching a Yankee politician race-bait is a little like watching a girl throw a baseball. He puts his heart (if not his shoulder) into it, but he can't get it over the plate.

The Rev has elected himself to take out John Ashcroft, George W.'s nominee for attorney general and the Democrats' designated No. 1 target among all the Cabinet choices. He's painting Mr. Ashcroft, a gentle and religious man with the killer instinct of a golden retriever, as a fiend who eats little black children for breakfast and tosses the bones to vipers and scorpions.

Tim Russert, the interlocutor on "Meet the Press," offered Sen. Tom Daschle, the Democratic minority leader who is the Democratic majority leader for a fortnight, this opportunity to hit a double to drive in the Rev with a run:

"You know Senator Ashcroft. You served with him. Is his record on civil rights and civil liberties abysmal?"

Mr. Daschle, a Southern Democrat in a way he represents South Dakota gave it a try, sort of: "Well, I don't I don't I, uh, wouldn't use that word. I'd say that I have very stark differences of opinion with him on a number of these issues, as many of my colleagues do, but, again,

uh, ah, we have to show due deference to a president who has made these nominations."

One of Mr. Ashcroft's high crimes and felonious misdemeanors is that, discussing the Civil War with the Southern Partisan magazine, he had kind words about Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, for whom streets, children, cities, schools, churches and colleges have been named in half the states over the past century. But decrying the assault of the arrogant and the ignorant on the nation's history is not only not politically correct, but not to be tolerated. We must make up whatever history is necessary to enable the self-righteously uninformed to feel good about themselves.

The Rev and his Senate confederates want to put Mr. Ashcroft on the wheel as punishment for opposing the confirmation of a black federal judge in Missouri, and to establish the precedent that Republican opposition to a black candidate is prima facie proof of racism.

Mr. Ashcroft's friends note that he supported 23 of the nominations of 26 black judges that came up for a vote during his Senate tenure. As governor of Missouri a decade ago, he signed the law mandating the Martin Luther King holiday, set aside the boyhood home of Scott Joplin as a historic site, created an award honoring George Washington Carver, named a black woman to a state judgeship, and led the effort to save traditionally black Lincoln University. Some racist.

Mr. Daschle and the Democratic avengers promise to ask "all the tough questions that need to be asked," by which he means all the cheap-shot questions they can dream up: "The most important question is whether [Mr. Ashcroft] will enforce laws that he's acknowledged publicly he disagrees with." This is a shameless question after Janet Reno's eight years of stalling, evading, dodging and avoiding her responsibility in enforcing campaign-finance law. There's nothing in Mr. Ashcroft's record to suggest that he looks to Janet Reno as a role model.

And there's nothing in Jesse Jackson's record to suggest that he looks to Martin Luther King as a role model. Just when America is eager to make amends for the sins and crimes of the past no society in the history of the world has turned itself upside down and inside out like ours in an attempt to set things right this man with a genuine talent to lead pursues instead, with the enthusiastic assistance of the Democratic Party, a career of wreaking ruin and ravage on his own people. Who are the racists?

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