Monday, November 28, 2005

Cabinet Lacks Credibility

Original Chimes Article Here

After Bush won the recent election by the narrowest of margins, many questioned if he could lead a divided nation. Republicans quickly championed Bush’s strengths as a uniter. However, the recent cabinet nominations Bush made showed that, rhetoric aside, he has no intention of unification.

To begin with, there was Labor Secretary nominee Linda Chavez. Although Chavez has withdrawn her name from consideration, a Bush transition official has admitted that she was originally chosen to punish labor groups for their support of Al Gore. Next is Energy Secretary nominee Spencer Abraham, who has no energy experience at all, unless one counts the bill he sponsored to abolish the department. Also present is Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who as an anti-environmentalist has spent her whole life undermining the department she will now head.But first and foremost is John Ashcroft, who has been nominated to one of the most powerful positions in the United States: Attorney General. John Ashcroft has a record that, to put it mildly, places him out-side of the American mainstream.

Ashcroft co-sponsored a bill which would have criminalized abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and would also have outlawed many types of commonly used birth control. John Ashcroft also helped the Gingrich Republicans gut the Clean Air and Water acts and make it legal for mining companies to dump cyanide in public lands. In addition, Ashcroft voted against taking arsenic out of drinking water and has been a fierce opponent of even the mildest gun control measures.

Most troubling however is Ashcroft’s position on civil rights. Because Ashcroft personally believes homosexuality is a sin, he has voted against protecting homosexuals from hate crimes and workplace discrimination. Ashcroft also opposed the nomination of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg because Hormel was openly gay.

As a Senator, Ashcroft has championed America’s most racist institution, the death penalty. According to Amnesty international, Ashcroft ran for re-election on a “pro-death penalty platform.” Ashcroft lead the charge against Ronnie White, an African American Missouri Supreme Court Judge nominated by Clinton to be a federal district judge. Ashcroft believed White was soft on the death penalty. This was despite the fact that White affirmed the death penalty in 41 out of the 59 capital cases brought before him, and in 10 of the 18 cases in which White voted against the death penalty, he was in the company of a unanimous court.

Ashcroft opposed the school desegregation plan ordered by the Federal courts for the cities of Saint Louis and Kansas City. He even opposed a voluntary desegregation plan for Saint Louis city and the surrounding suburbs. Ashcroft also voted to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act, which is a federal law that discourages banks from redlining minority districts.

In 1990 Ashcroft received an honorary degree from Bob Jones University, an institution that up until last year did not allow inter-racial dating. Ashcroft praised the Southern Partisan magazine, a magazine that has repeatedly suggested slavery was beneficial for the slaves. Ashcroft has received the endorsement of the Council of Conservative Citizens, an overtly racist group, which has been described as an uptown version of the KKK. Gordon Baum, head of the CCC claimed Ashcroft, “comes fairly close to us on some of the social and cultural issues.” Ashcroft also once wrote a thank you note to Larry Pratt, a man who had to step down from Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign because of his association with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations. After Bush lost over 90% of the black vote, the nomination of Ashcroft seems like a remarkably poor choice.

Republicans have recently been arguing that a president should have the right to choose his or her cabinet nominees, and that the ideology of a cabinet nominee should not factor into the nominee’s confirmation. This is interesting, because 8 years ago the Republicans zealously attacked Clinton’s nominees because of their ideology. And leading the fight 8 years ago? None other than John Ashcroft, who publicly stated one of Clinton’s nominees should be rejected because of the nominee’s ideology.

Republicans have also argued that the attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the land, and that personal ideology isn’t even a factor. This is a nice ideal, but it’s certainly not true of John Ashcroft, who, as Attorney General of Missouri, attempted to use the anti-trust laws to prosecute his political rival, the National Organization for Women.

No comments: