Down in flames. She said she didn’t need any of this, and I don’t blame her. She doesn’t and neither does anyone else who aspires to serve her country. But that isn’t the way the game is played today, and, because of that, the name Linda Chavez is removed from the list of those who will serve in the first Cabinet of President-to-be George W. Bush.

She called it the politics of personal destruction, and she is correct. This has nothing to do with the issues of being fit to serve as secretary of labor or anything else. This has everything to do with vindictiveness and destruction. It has everything to do with a search and destroy mission. They did and they did — search and destroy, that is.

The “they” in this case, as in so many instances we’ve seen these last eight years, are the Democrats. Those who sit on their haunches and decree the standards of conduct. Those who deign to judge others by the standards they set and judge not their own by the same guidelines.

If that were the case, Bill Clinton would have been long gone and his wife Hillary would be doing what the traditional political wife has done for lo these many years — faded away with her husband, who in fact was the one elected. She was just along for the ride.

Ah, yes, but times have changed. The man elected, through years of scandal and dismay, completes his terms of office and elatedly speaks of the “fun” he had during his years in office. In fact, he said, more “fun” than any other president. Funny, having “fun” never before seemed to be a requisite part of the job. But then, never before have we had to deal with a boomer president and his interpretation of the role.

Fun for him, all those years of spectacle and media focus and miles of travel and adulation by populations not part of his constituency. Fun for him, the dismissal of behavior not acceptable by any level of society save that of the lowest, from whence he came and from which he desired to depart as quickly as soft money could carry him.

Fun for him and for her too, the pair of them, the move from Arkansas backwater to beltway and Big Apple cosmopolitan lifestyles. How nice for them to make the shift from the Arkansas backwater to the high rent neighborhoods of not one but two U.S. cities and with rumors of another homestead on the horizon.

Now nice for taxpayers who will foot the bill for decades of pensions for him as well as secret service protections for them and the potential of years more of expenses for her.

Yes, I know, the wife was then elected, too. What none of us know is the depth and breadth of the financial support that made it possible. The media and the civil rights rabble-rousers are making a bigger deal of the Florida debacle. Would that an intrepid reporter would make some effort to honestly portray what happened in the Empire State. Hillary may be the new senator but the real story has not been told and given the track record of the sycophantic media, it may never be in our lifetime. Pity for all of us.

But Linda Chavez was the first sacrificial lamb. She pulled her name out of contention but the Bush camp was not fully behind her. It was clear. They did not officially desert her but they didn’t circle the wagons either.

Over the last eight years, the liberals have sounded off many times about the role of people in this country under conditions not sanctioned by the law. In common parlance, that is called being here illegally. In fact, people here under those circumstances are called illegal aliens. Well, they’re called that by traditional Americans and conservatives and most Republicans. But for the liberals, the Democrats and those of socialist persuasion, those same people are called undocumented workers. We wouldn’t want to burden their psyche with the appellations of illegality.

Well, maybe. The fact remains that such people are here illegally and they are by definition aliens, and that has nothing to do with Roswell. But Democrats and liberals will have none of it as long as they are defending the right of lawbreakers to stay here and benefit from the largesse of hardworking American taxpayers.

Except in the case of Linda Chavez. The woman she helped with a place to stay and some work and some spending money until she got her life in order to become a self-supporting, tax-paying person doesn’t get a free pass. She’s not an “undocumented worker” entitled to a nod and a wink; she is blasted with the illegal alien epithet, and Chavez is pilloried for doing a good deed. Better she had left the woman on the street, at the mercy of social service.

But the real issue wasn’t what Chavez did for an illegal; the real issue is that the liberals don’t like her politics. What a concept: The opposition doesn’t like the political philosophy of a president. No surprise but the twist here is that the Dems are trying to prevent the GOP from having a team with their own political point of view. Talk about chutzpah. And the weak willed GOP is apparently caving. Trent Lott opened the gate, Linda Chavez was first and John Ashcroft is next on the firing line. The motto for the GOP smacks of Pogo: “We have found the enemy and he is us.” Amen. And God help us.

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