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Jewish World Review Jan. 19, 2001/ 24 Teves, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

Once more to wave the bloody shirt -- JOHN ASHCROFT'S public ordeal is almost over, and a good thing, too.

He promised to reinvent himself to bipartisan specifications, to leave Roe v. Wade alone, to learn to hate guns and obey all laws dear to Democratic hearts. He dutifully said he thinks slavery "abhorrent," as if who doesn't, applying a $2.98 adjective that Democratic panderers had not themselves thought to use. He even mused that if he had been a Missouri man back in 1861 he would have signed up to fight with Ulysses S. Grant against that scamp Robert E. Lee.

So eager is Mr. Ashcroft to please that if Arthur Murray calls he can probably sign up John and Janet Ashcroft for a crash course in how to dance the fox trot. One more day and John will even drink to that.

Maybe, with an evenly divided Senate boiling in a climate of ideological intimidation and partisan terror, this is the only way a man of conscience and character can assure himself of confirmation by a Senate infested with moral frauds. It's nevertheless enough to make an honorable man throw up, and a pity he can't throw up on Chuck Schumer and Teddy Kennedy (who probably wouldn't notice).

The Democratic obsession with waving the bloody shirt over an ancient war and an evil eradicated 135 years ago would astonish a rational man who does not understand the game. Not since the 1950s has Congress imposed a loyalty oath on candidates for office. Democrats opposed it then as an insult to free men, but John Ashcroft may yet be required to answer when the committee asks: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a slaveholder, and have you ever given aid and comfort to a Confederate soldier?"

Actually, the Democratic senators know the issue is a phony one, but with patronizing contempt they encourage ignorant and uninformed blacks to believe that unless John Ashcroft is stopped it's back to toting barges and lifting bales for everyone of a shade darker than Jennifer Lopez. Even if racists are running amok in the United States Senate, secretly organizing cells of the Ku Klux Klan, Chuck and Teddy and Patrick Leahy know that John Ashcroft is not one of them. If the ignorant can be frightened to the polls, why not? And who are the real racists here?

The man who wants to be attorney general could be forgiven if he is having second thoughts about participating in this smarmy exercise. Can any job be worth taking this kind of hazing? Having his moral code publicly audited by the likes of Teddy Kennedy in a Senate hearing, and by Barney Frank as a talk-show end man on national television, is as galling as it can get. The diminishing number of Democrats of good faith are humiliated as well, that their party is so bereft of qualified critics that the job must fall to a motley gang of slime-slingers.

Sen. Kennedy, puffed up like a swamp toad on steroids, poses as Sir Gallahad, riding to assist unwary pregnant women in search of abortionists. Pity the ladies. Much worse than unwanted pregnancies violent death and rape, for example can happen to women when Teddy wanders into the neighborhood.

Barney Frank, rebuked only yesterday by his congressional colleagues for operating a whorehouse in his Capitol Hill apartment, gets to scold John Ashcroft on ABC-TV for not measuring up to Barney's high moral standard. Chuck Schumer derides the candidate's faith, suggesting that devout Christianity is enough to unhinge a man's mind. Joe Biden, spooked by the written word when his presidential candidacy in 1988 collapsed after he got caught stealing speeches from other pols and caught again lying about it, reproves the candidate for granting an interview to a magazine with "pro-Confederate" sentiments. Joe, like those congressmen who fled the Manassas battlefield a century and more ago with hats, handbags and picnic hampers flying, is forever looking over his shoulder. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." (John Ashcroft can explain that to him.)

The slime-slingers brought in Judge Ronnie White yesterday to testify how Mr. Ashcroft wronged him by blocking his nomination to a federal judgeship, and told how as a boy in segregated St. Louis the white kids threw milk and food on him. What happened to Mr. White, said Teddy, "was 10 times worse than anything that's happened to Senator Ashcroft in the current controversy."

What happened to the young Ronnie White was indeed shameful, and we can all be thankful that the days when that kind of behavior was tolerated are behind us. It's an interesting concession by the senator from Massachusetts, that what he and the other Democrats did this week to John Ashcroft was at least 10 percent as bad as what happened to the child Ronnie White.

The chief slime-slinger may feel a little shame himself.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


01/16/01: Bring on the lions, the clowns are ready
01/12/01: The dastardly plot to restore slavery
01/10/01: Mr. Lott's generosity to the Dems
01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

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

© 2000 Wes Pruden