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From: the Senate
To: John Ashcroft
This letter has been a long time in coming, and if things had turned out differently in Missouri in November, I wouldn’t have to write it at all. But we know what happened.
You lost the election to a dead man. His wife was given the job. You could have legally objected, but you respect the smooth continuum of government. So you let it stand and walked away.
You are of the old school, John. You are a gentleman.
Oh, John … John … John.
We’ve known each other for so long. You’ve been in the Senate. It’s that way with people in our circumstances. We spend hours together, day and night. We talk about things of great import and deep philosophy. We make decisions that affect the lives of millions. Our lives are intertwined by the nature of the job. The Senate, it’s said, is a gentleman’s club. We’re polite. We are civil. We are senators. There is protocol, after all.
So what in blazes went wrong? Whatever happened to all that senatorial protocol and politeness? Civil? You’ve got to be kidding! Those savages wouldn’t know the definition of the word “civil,” unless you were talking about “civil rights” and then it would be only by their definition as to which protected group was entitled to them.
So John, because you’ve been with us before, you know the truth. You know that the opposition must oppose, and that’s what we’ve had to do. It is, after all, a confirmation hearing. We know you were selected by the new president because you reflect his conservative views. We know you were selected because you have a broad and experienced background in government and law. But we also know — and now, so do you — that even though we have known each other, we haven’t really.
No, really? How could we have guessed? Confirmation, my foot. This has been an inquisition. The loyal opposition has fired every gun in their arsenal of hate. This poor man, who has not a sniff of scandal about him during his career (or lifetime, for that matter) has been accused of everything. Racist? Well, of course. Anti-woman. Yes. Anti-choice, natch. Even anti-family planning. Pro-gun ownership, yup — and anti-gun law on top of it. Anti-any old minority. Anti-civil rights. Anti-equal rights, equal pay, equal anything. Anti-gay, anti-hate-crime laws, anti-partial-birth abortion. Have I forgotten anything? Do you see a trend? Talk about piling it on. If it weren’t so serious, it would be funny.
And so, John, we had no choice. We just had to do it. The problem is, John, you are a man of standards. You have a moral foundation and we just don’t know how that fits with government. You’ve seen how it goes, and the last eight years have provided the format. John, you just can’t be hard-line. Flexibility is the key. That’s what diversity is all about. Everybody is right. Well, everybody but you, John, and that’s what we’ve been trying to show. You are just not the right man for the job because of one simple thing. Actually, two things. You have a sense of honor and you are a Christian. They just get in the way.
So there you have it. Anti-Christian! They played that and the race card and every other despicable card in that poisoned deck. Some veiled their insults in rhetoric; others, like Maxine Waters, were directly insulting. Others, like the “honorable” Joe Biden couched his knife jabs with sermonizing and the friendliness of a python’s initial hug.
But Kay Cole James of The Heritage Foundation hit the nail on the head with her defense of Mr. Ashcroft by accusing his critics of “religious profiling.” PERFECT! Because what the critics are really saying is that if any individual has a religious belief, then they are not qualified to have a role in government. By that token, JFK should not have been elected because, after all, he was Catholic. I thought we were beyond that. In reality, what they are saying is that someone can have religion but they should be willing to depart from its tenets when it’s expedient to do so.
But that isn’t what John Ashcroft has done in his career, nor what he promises for the future. He has said he will take a serious oath and will uphold the law, even if it’s a law he disagrees with. Why is that so surprising? Ever single American is expected to do the same. None of us agrees with every law, but, if we break laws, we can expect punishment. What a concept! We also have the freedom to speak out against bad laws (yes, there are bad laws) and work to change them. Unfortunately, the people we saw this week do not believe that. Their way is the only way.
Here’s my letter: Dear John, I am so sorry for what you’ve been put through in the name of our Constitution and for our country.
I am astounded at your ability to withstand the constant barrage of accusations and innuendo, of allegations and denigrations, of insult and verbal back-handing, of contemptible intolerance and bigotry. You are an honorable man and deserve better. Thank you for your grace under pressure.
Boy, talk about a pre-employment interview!