To: Sen. John Ashcroft, D-Mo.
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Brace yourself
For a minute, I thought you might go through the confirmation process
as slick as a whistle and take your post as attorney general a month
from now, when President-elect Bush is inaugurated. Now it is becoming
clear the Democratic special-interest coalition has decided to start the
new year off with a bang over your nomination. It plans to do to you
what it did to U.S. District Judge Robert Bork in denying him the
Supreme Court seat to which he had been nominated by Ronald Reagan, and
what it did to U.S. District Judge Clarence Thomas in almost keeping him
from occupying the seat he now holds on the Supreme Court.
If it were just the AG seat involved, I do not think the coalition of
feminists, greenies and black and Hispanic leaders would do more than
pro forma protests. A shot across the bow. It will be worse than that.
The likelihood that President Bush would tap you for the Supreme Court
as soon as one of the older justices retire — perhaps Chief Justice
William Rehnquist — means they will do everything they can to squash
you now, so there would be almost zero chance of that happening, even if
you survive this gauntlet.
With the Republicans now about to occupy the executive and
legislative branches of the federal government for the first time in
half a century, the old-time liberals see their raison d’etre withering
on the political vine. Even if they can somehow prevent his re-election
in 2004, they know George W. Bush could wind up filling as many as four
Supreme Court seats in these next few years, so they might as well start
blasting now. You are first. The enormous black turnout against Bush on
Nov. 7 was practically an act of desperation, engineered with
unprecedented scare tactics.
The traditional black leaders — Jesse Jackson, Kweisi Mfume, Al
Sharpton and Julian Bond of the NAACP — engaged in shameless and
shameful political behavior they will never be able to live down. They
threw everything they had against Bush and still lost, which is why
there was so much race-baiting in Florida during the “recount” process
and why it is continuing with the “unofficial recounting.” The tactic is
to keep the black community inflamed for the next two years with the
intent of taking the Senate and House, where they can continue the
shakedown policies that keep them in federal clover.
You’re not an ideal target for them, John, because your record as a
public servant and as a human being is about as good as it could
possibly be. That did not stop them when it came to Bob Bork or to
Clarence Thomas, both of whom lived exemplary lives. They will not give
a hoot if they have to make up stuff about you or find people willing to
bear false witness against you. Because they are able to make life
difficult for politicians who cross them, they can insist that the
harshest kinds of arguments are made against you in laying the
foundation for a party-line vote against you. In the election campaign,
Jesse Jackson repeated his mantra over and over again about George W.
Bush being the candidate of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. He never
mentioned Sen. John Ashcroft. Now I see you are being characterized as
the most conservative member of the United States Senate. I have yet to
see in the New York Times any mention of the fact that your wife, Janet,
is a professor at Howard, the nation’s premiere black university. It
does not fit with the plan to demonize you as a racist who once accepted
an honorary degree at Bob Jones U.
Believe me, before this is over and done with, you will know the
process of demonization, as practiced by this tired old coalition as it
attempts to cling to its power base. I recommend you follow the
commentary at one of my favorite websites,
Electorate, where Cedric Muhammad of the Nation of Islam keeps score on these kinds of developments. In his Tuesday commentary, he notes how President-elect Bush has Jesse, Kweisi and Co. scared out of their wits by inviting black religious and spiritual leaders to meet with him for discussions about the future role of faith-based institutions in community work. On his Sunday TV show, the Rev. Jesse warns darkly about mixing government and religion. Now Julian Bond of the NAACP has announced that your nomination as AG has ended any possibility of racial reconciliation. This is the same Stepin-Fetchit who used a pile of white cash to finance the TV spot showing Dubya in a pickup truck, dragging a black body in chains down a dirt country road.
I remember how proud I was of you when I asked you if you would be willing to sit next to Minister Louis Farrakhan at dinner, when you both were at my annual supply-side conference in Boca Raton, Fla., in early 1997. Jack Kemp was so terrified of being seen with Minister Farrakhan that he tried everything he could to break his commitment to speak at the conference — and when he did come, he ran in, spoke and ran out without ever looking Minister Farrakhan in the eye. (He has since met the minister and apologized for his behavior.) As far as I know, you are the only white member of Congress ever to have broken bread with Minister Farrakhan, and, as you know from that dinner conversation, there is nothing about him that you could ever characterize as bigoted or anti-Semitic. Since then, Ed Rendell, a Jew, a former mayor of Philadelphia, and now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, not only met with Minister Farrakhan, but also joined hands with him in prayer. And of course Sen. Joseph Lieberman in September indicated he had been told by fellow Jews that Minister Farrakhan was not the bad fellow he is said to be, and that he would meet with him. Perhaps it was your wife Janet who nudged you toward the dinner table that night, but still, I still think it was a brave thing for you to do — and that you would some day be rewarded for that human act. I’ll bet Minister Farrakhan will be rooting for you.
So will I, of course. I expect you will be a great success as AG … and then at the SCOTUS!