Senate should let Bush choose Ashcroft for AG

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted January 1, 2001

Time and time again, when dreadful people have been nominated for Cabinet posts by liberal presidents over the years, when I have pushed conservative Senators to oppose these nominees, they have had the same refrain: The president is entitled to whomever he wishes to serve in his Cabinet. These Senators would go on to issue a qualifier, saying that if they discovered something criminal in the person's background then they might vote against him but otherwise they would have to support the president's nominee.

Well, now, let's see if liberal Senators have the same view of the world, as they face President George W. Bush's nomination of Senator John Ashcroft to be Attorney General of the United States.

Ashcroft was twice Attorney General of Missouri. He was twice governor and most recently served a term in the U.S. Senate. This nomination took courage, because Ashcroft is politically incorrect. His views are absolutely in accord with the Founding Fathers of this nation, but he has refused to redefine the Constitution, as liberals have demanded. Thus they claim he is out of the mainstream.

The NAACP and other minority groups have mounted a major campaign against Ashcroft, demanding that the Senate defeat him. Already, quotes from Ashcroft, many taken out of context, are surfacing on talk shows to lay the groundwork for the grilling he will get before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ashcroft is a target because he opposes affirmative action and these groups support it. But they don't join the debate there. They claim Ashcroft is a racist. Why? Because he led the opposition to the confirmation of Judge Ronnie White, the only Clinton nominee to be defeated outright in the United States Senate. Ashcroft was motivated to oppose Judge White by opposition from Police Associations in Missouri, which regarded him as soft on crime. But because Judge White is black, that supposedly makes Ashcroft a racist.

Radical feminist groups have gone into orbit over this nomination because Ashcroft is a committed opponent of abortion and has been since his days as Attorney General of Missouri. The 1989 Supreme Court case that upheld Roe vs. Wade but did allow states to enact some restrictions on abortion had his name on it. So suddenly we hear that Ashcroft is anti-women and thus is disqualified to be Attorney General.

The gun controllers are around the bend that Ashcroft has gotten this nomination because as Senator Ashcroft has been outspoken in defense of the Second Amendment and in opposition to schemes, including the Brady Bill, to curb it. So now we hear that Ashcroft cannot be Attorney General because he cannot be trusted to enforce the law.

And so it goes, as every left wing group weighs in. These groups are entitled to their opinions just as we were entitled to ours. The question is, what will the Senators do? Will liberal Democrats tell those interest groups that the president is entitled to whomever he wishes to serve in his Cabinet? Or will they begin to side with the leftists and announce that they will vote against Ashcroft? Will the acrimony get so bitter that the Senator will end up withdrawing, feeling that he cannot serve his president and the nation under such circumstances?

Conservative Senators swallowed hard and let Bill Clinton have the people in his Cabinet he wanted. It is time for liberal Senators to reciprocate. George W. Bush wants John Ashcroft as his Attorney General. The Senate should give its consent, as he is well-qualified for that position. Then let the Democrats campaign against Ashcroft on his record if they wish. That is fair game. Denying him the chance to serve is not. ESR

Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.

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