The Man Doesn't Dance: The Case Against John Ashcroft


| January 8, 2001

The Man Doesn't Dance: The Case Against John Ashcroft

Remember that creepy John Lithgow preacher character in the movie 'Footloose' who went ballistic every time the kids tried to hold a school dance? Well, allow me to introduce you to your potential attorney general, John Ashcroft. He doesn't dance, either. Really. Apparently, he believes that dancing is just another tool of the devil.

Writing in TomPaine.com, David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, wonders aloud if Ashcroft's 'anti-boogie sentiments' might come up at the forthcoming Senate confirmation hearings. Alas, says Corn, the fact that Ashcroft doesn't like to 'get down' is the least of this country's problems. President-elect Bush, who campaigned on bipartisanship and unity, 'would have been hard-pressed to have enlisted a more conservative fellow,' he writes.

Ashcroft, who considers himself close to televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, has indicated several times that his religious beliefs influence his public policy stands. When football star Reggie White declared in 1998 that the country had rejected God by allowing homosexuality to 'run rampant,' Ashcroft sent him a congratulatory note that read, 'You are a credit to sports.' And, when the Republican Party tried to move to the center on the abortion issue, Ashcroft vehemently pronounced, 'In the party of Lincoln, there can be no place for barbarism.'

Perhaps most galling is his record on civil rights. He is one of only a few legislators who voted to keep old school-segregation laws on the books; he opposed the nomination of African-American Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White to the federal bench on spurious grounds; and he has called on 'traditionalists' to defend the honor of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the leaders of the pro-slavery South, saying, 'We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives...to some perverted agenda.' In other words, writes Corn, 'the agenda of slave-owning secessionists was just fine.'

Unfortunately, Corn believes it unlikely that 'Democrats in the Senate will mount a serious effort to derail Ashcroft's nomination.' Ashcroft is a former Senator himself, and the Senate--in an act of self-interest--usually tries to support 'one of its own' when it comes time for confirmation hearings. Perhaps the only thing we can hope for is a good show--maybe Ashcroft will become a reviled Newt Gingrich-type that everybody loves to hate.
--Anjula Razdan
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