The Sunday Gazette Mail, January 21, 2001
Knight-Ridder/Tribune Media Services, January 18, 2001
George W. Bush campaigned for President as a "uniter, not a divider," a "compassionate conservative," who was going to "bring civility back to government."
"I'll work with Republicans and Democrats," he said.
He didn't even wait to be sworn in before launching a jihad-- a holy war-- against the enemies of his party. How else to describe the nomination of a man with such an atrocious civil rights record for the nation's top legal officer? Not to mention an anti-environmentalist to protect the nation's federal lands and forests, and an anti-labor crusader for Secretary of Labor.
That last one, Linda Chavez, got "Borked" last week. (The reference is to Robert Bork, nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1987 and rejected after a harsh fight in the Senate). But Chavez was defeated on a technicality. John Ashcroft, George W. Bush's nominee for Attorney General, hasn't been caught with any undocumented workers doing his housework. So the Democrats may have to reject him on more substantive grounds.
This shouldn't be all that hard to do. The man has a record. Take voting rights-- given what happened in our last Presidential election, it's probably more of an issue today than at any time since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
There are a lot of good reasons that Mr. Ashcroft lost to a dead man in his Senate race last year. The question now is: will the 50 live Democrats in the Senate have the spine to stop him from taking a much more powerful position in which he is clearly not fit to serve? Or will they kick up a lot of dirt and then cave, deferring to a President that lost the popular vote (and never really won the election, either)?
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Failed: What the "Experts" Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).