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

The Man Doesn’t Dance: The Case Against John

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, 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

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
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