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18 November 2001


There has been significant debate over John Ashcroft's leadership of the Justice Department lately, with many people expressing concern over his growing power. Certainly, the role of the U.S. Attorney General has grown in importance since 11 September. Overall, however, I don't find much fault with Ashcroft's performance, aside perhaps from the ill-advised intervention in Oregon's assisted suicide debate (not that I'm a big fan of assisted suicide, but I am a proponent of the tenth amendment, and the forgotten ninth for that matter).

Overall, I must say that I am rather pleased with John Ashcroft for the same reason that I'm pleased with the U.S. foreign policy team these days: consider whom they replaced! Clinton's foreign policy team (people like Madeleine Not-At-Albright and Strobe Lite and Sandy Berger) had a long track record of being wrong on foreign policy, and many people referred to the Clinton foreign policy group as the second team of the Carter administration (not exactly a compliment). In contrast, the Bush group -- especially the DoD people -- is just excellent.

But even the Clinton foreign policy team was wonderful compared to that scary man Janet Reno, who was the most political Attorney General in my (relatively short) lifetime. Janet Reno's policies were not only misguided (like the Clinton foreign policy team), they were corrupt and blatantly political. Unsurprisingly, political controversy followed Reno around when she was active in Florida -- and not just because people disagreed with her policies. Compare that to John Ashcroft, a devout Christian who served Missouri as Attorney General, Governor, and U.S. Senator with nary a hint of impropriety, scandal, or misconduct at any time in his long political career. The worst that is said about him today is that he has a prayer group!

Does that mean we shouldn't worry about possible infringement of our liberties? Of course not! We should zealously guard our liberties, in peacetime AND in wartime. The nature of John Ashcroft's job is that sometimes he's going to bump up against those liberties, and of course right-thinking people should object.

But I have to say that I'm much more comfortable with a man of John Ashcroft's character holding the office of Attorney General than that partisan political hack who last served there.

[Posted @ 12:00 AM CST]

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