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Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2001 / 9 Teves 5761

Don Feder

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Ashcroft and the art of political warfare

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- AS INCREASINGLY FEROCIOUS opposition to the nomination of Sen. John Ashcroft demonstrates, the left is on a constant war footing. The election may be over, but the campaign never ends.

President-elect George Bush's choice for attorney general should be a shoo-in. His credentials are impeccable -- former Missouri attorney general, governor and a two-term United States senator.

Still, Ashcroft stands for achievement over racial preferences. He's pro-life. He believes in the heroes of American history instead of a politically correct debunking of our past. So the Missourian must be destroyed.

When he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, Robert H. Bork was equally well qualified, having served as a full professor at Yale Law School, U.S. solicitor general and a judge of the D.C. appeals court.

But Bork believed in the Constitution's clear meaning, and that wouldn't do. The Reagan administration announced the nomination and then took a month-long summer vacation while the left mobilized. The judge was portrayed as an enemy of civil liberties who would take us back to the era of segregated lunch counters. Bork was thoroughly borked.

Liberals are sharpening the same long knives for Ashcroft. He refused to sign on to the report of a 1988 federal commission that blamed minority plight on whites. He once called Robert E. Lee a hero. He voted against confirmation of a judicial activist (who, coincidentially, happens to be black) for the federal bench.

It wouldn't matter if this preacher's son had a halo, he'd still be denounced as a cross between David Duke and a police dog attacking civil-rights marchers in Selma.

Conservatives foolishly believe that it's over when the polls close or the court renders its decision. For the left, this is just a momentary lull in the fighting, a chance to regroup and plan the next offensive.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America has the right to apply its own standards in choosing leaders. Undeterred, the gay lobby continues the fight on other fronts. It's convinced at least two dozen United Way chapters to defund the Scouts. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network has launched a national effort to have the group kicked out of schools. "Under the guise of morality, the Scouts are teaching our young ... the most immoral of human emotions -- hate," an AIDS activist charges.

Fanatics that they are, liberals believe that their opponents aren't merely wrong, but vicious and morally depraved. What do you do with people who are evil? Use every means at your disposal to destroy them.

You can tell outright lies about a man's record, smear him, dredge up embarrassing details from his past, put forth perjured testimony. Clarence Thomas can still feel the rope burns on his neck.

Bush experienced this firsthand during the presidential campaign, when an NAACP ad compared him to the murderers of James Byrd, the black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck.

While the left acts like a wrestler on WWF's Smackdown, Republicans behave like proper little gentlemen in a Victorian novel. With few exceptions, Bill Clinton's Cabinet-level appointments were easily confirmed. His two Supreme Court nominations, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, won Senate confirmation by votes of 96 to 3 and 90 to 9 respectively.

Republicans mostly hid from Clinton nominations they didn't want to act on. Clinton was dogged, renominating them year after year. Picking women and minorities, he dared the GOP to reject them and face charges of sexism or racism. Republicans rarely accepted the challenge. In World War I, Germans were the first to use poison gas. The British didn't want to respond in kind (it wasn't cricket) but believed there was no alternative. In World War II, no one used gas, knowing their own soldiers would end up coughing out their lungs.

Even the term culture war is inadequate to describe this desperate struggle for America's future. This is a total war with an enemy who never sleeps and spurns the Geneva Conventions. Unless we're willing to adopt the left's tactics -- until the first whiff of mustard gas begins drifting across no-man's-land toward their trenches -- we've haven't got a prayer.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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