Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2001/ 21 Teves, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE U.S. SENATE opens its confirmation circus this morning, and some of the senators haven't had this much fun tormenting devout Christians since the Romans amused themselves throwing believers to the lions.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, one of the most partisan of the Democrats, suggested yesterday that John Ashcroft's faith might even have damaged his mind. Like, uh, anyone who really believes that Christ stuff must be a little nuts.
"It may be," says Mr. Schumer, "that his philosophical and ideological beliefs are so deep that even if he believes he is enforcing the law, he isn't."
Other Democrats, expecting to lose their fight to prevent Mr. Ashcroft from making it to the Bush Cabinet, warn darkly that even if he is confirmed he can expect further harassment. "If he says one thing at the hearings, and then does something else as attorney general," a Democratic aide hiding bravely behind the usual anonymity, told Reuters, "we'd call him back and ask him to explain why."
Mr. Ashcroft's tormentors continued yesterday to look for ringers to use against his candidacy. An "interfaith" group of somewhat vague ancestry, which appears to comprise the usual suspects accustomed to preaching to empty pews, urged the Senate Judiciary Committee, which opens hearings this morning, to ask Mr. Ashcroft the usual when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife question: If confirmed, would he allow Christianity to be imposed on public institutions and sanction discrimination against other faiths.
"Religion in the public square must respect the rights of others to practice faith without imposing one ideology or belief," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist preacher who is executive director of the Interfaith Alliance. As the attorney general, Mr. Ashcroft "would be charged with upholding and fully enforcing the constitutional rights and liberties of faith groups that he clearly judges to be wrong and in need of correction." Mr. Gaddy does not say which "faith groups" he thinks Mr. Ashcroft believes are "wrong" and "in need of correction." (Several bystanders were all but overcome by the stench of the sanctimony.)
Nor does Mr. Gaddy acknowledge that Mr. Ashcroft has, in the past, said emphatically that his own Pentecostal faith — like Mr. Gaddy's professed Baptist faith — teaches that it is wrong to impose his religious beliefs on others. Mr. Ashcroft's critics take care to pay tribute to his reputation as a man of conscience and character.
But religious divines like C. Welton Gaddy and his colleagues do not actually believe that Mr. Ashcroft intends to send federal agents armed with automatic rifles into private homes (that was Janet Reno's schtick) to make them sing "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound" any more than the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton believe that Mr. Ashcroft will haul out the fire hoses and unleash the Dobermans to drive little black children back to the cotton fields.
Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, is right about John Ashcroft, and they know it. Mr. Evers, the former mayor of Fayette, Miss., sent letters yesterday on behalf of Mr. Ashcroft to two members of the Judiciary Committee, Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts, who with Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts guards the pure blue flame of morality as Democrats understand it, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Republican chairman. "Senator Ashcroft is a man of tremendous experience and high integrity," Mr. Evers wrote. "The allegations of racism against him are not supported by facts. A look at Senator Ashcroft's record as governor of Missouri and as a United States senator shows that he voted to confirm 23 of 26 African American judicial appointments."
It's all in the game, and the game is to strangle the new administration in the cradle as the overture to '04. A key handful of the Democratic senators, including but not limited to the junior senator from New York, are already candidates, and the first opportunity to put down markers arrives this morning.
The Democrats not only understand knee-in-the-groin, thumb-in-the-eye politics, but relish it, like the cowboy who rides into town on Saturday night looking for a saloon to break up and goes home disappointed if neither eye has been blackened. It's John Ashcroft's luck, if he will pardon the metaphor, that the Democrats elected his saloon.
George W. knows this, and he must hope that all his men
(and women) understand this, too. No matter how rough the
fight gets, no matter how tempting it may be to retreat into
Republican tradition and turn tail, they cannot even for a
nanosecond entertain thoughts of pulling the plug. Not this
time, or they're all
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11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach
11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck
11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours
11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings
10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice
10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell
10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights
10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools
10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief
10/06/00: AlGore's black problem
10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote
10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio
09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp
09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes
09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply
09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'
09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye
09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset
09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap
08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal
08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost
08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash
08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme
08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser
08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy
07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers
07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself
07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?
07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?
07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit
07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink
07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season
07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results
07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate
06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!
06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve
06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman
06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat
06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation
06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'
06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch
06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak
05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper
05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks
05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes
05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example
05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans
05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales
05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man
05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat
05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary
04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood
04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks
04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go
04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno
04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end