JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellClarence PageWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review / August 31, 1998 / 9 Elul, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord

IT'S A HUMID AUGUST EVENING and Sen. John Ashcroft, Republican of Missouri and presidential hopeful, is talking to about 30 people in a backyard in Manchester, N.H.

Though the senator doesn't mention the Clinton follies (the presidential libido and a cast of thousands) in his off-the-cuff comments, the subject is broached by a question from the audience.

The next President?
He is succinct and sensible, "What happens in the Oval Office, on the job, between the president and a 21-year-old intern is the people's business," Ashcroft declares.

While most of his party cowers in a corner, the Missourian has been out front here. When the scandal broke in January, Ashcroft said the president should resign if the allegations were true.

He's a graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago Law School. But the senator's views are also informed by his background as the son and grandson of evangelical ministers.

Ashcroft may have the most polished resume of any of the aspirants for 2000 -- one term as state auditor, two terms as Missouri attorney general, two terms as governor and now a senator since 1995.

In Democratic-leaning Missouri, Ashcroft was re-elected governer by 64 percent of the vote and carried every county in the state in his Senate race.

Add to his experience the Ashcroft advantage. On national issues, all of the other prospective GOP candidates are saying to conservatives, who ultimately will decide the nomination, "If elected, this is what I'll do for you."

Ashcroft alone can say, "This is what I'm doing for you, right now, today."

In the Senate, he led the conservative revolt against the leadership's Scroogian tax-cut plan, which, the senator noted in an article in Investor's Business Daily, would have resulted in tax relief of a whole $1.83 a month for each American.

Ashcroft also led the charge against National Endowment for the Arts funding and the judicial nomination, eventually withdrawn, of Frederica Massiah-Jackson (who never met a criminal she didn't want to cuddle).

He tried unsuccessfully to block David Satcher, Clinton's pick for surgeon general, for his stands on abortion and drugs, so reminiscent of Satcher's predecessor, the certifiable Joycelyn Elders.

Clinton's tobacco bill was not to Ashcroft's liking. "The only things in Washington more addictive than nicotine are taxes and spending," he told delegates to the South Carolina Republican State Convention in May, then led a field of 22 in their presidential straw poll.

He has fought to end the federal marriage tax penalty, by which the average married couple, filing jointly, pays an additional $1,400 annually. "Our tax system in America is at war with our values as Americans," Ashcroft comments. Religious and fiscal conservatives harmonize in singing his praises.

Insiders wonder if this gentleman farmer can raise the necessary bread for a presidential campaign. Keith Appell, an Ashcroft consultant, notes the senator's Spirit of America PAC exceeded its 1997 fundraising ($300,000) in the first month of 1998. Its goal for the current year ($1 million) was passed in June.

Should Ashcroft run, Appell says, the campaign will be based on message, media, momentum and money.

Message he certainly has. Discussing standard GOP issues (taxes, the growth of government) Ashcroft is adequate. When he talks about character and values, as he did in an interview after the Manchester meeting, he rises above the Republican herd.

Clinton's conduct and his excuse-making "devalues the morality of the American people," Ashcroft told me. "It sets a low level of expectation. It tells people entering marriage that they will probably fail, thereby creating an expectation of failure."

To pleas that we forgive the president and move on, the senator notes that forgiveness is a spiritual not a political concept. "The state's role is to enforce the law and implement justice," not to grant absolution. The same may be said of the body politic.

"If all a person had to do was confess to avoid consequences, confessions would constitute a license to do wrong, granted after the fact," Ashcroft observes. "That would give us a lot of forgiveness and a lawless society."

Unlike the smarmy scoundrel in the White House, he doesn't blubber and rush to lock us in a consoling embrace. Instead, he speaks moral sense from America's heartland.

To relax, John Ashcroft plays the piano -- like another Missouri senator. And, like Harry Truman, Ashcroft's plain talking echoes with the virtues that made America -- well, America.


8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.