For political entertainment, nothing beats surfing the waves of"progressive" Web sites on the Internet. My latest find isWorkingForChange.com. No, it's not a job placement service for the"employment-challenged." It's a "direct action" Web site, meaning visitorscan donate money to support various liberal causes.
The site is run by the Working Assets Funding Service -- a "long distance,credit card, Internet services and broadcasting company that was created tobuild a world that is more just, humane and environmentally sustainable."Besides selling you a prepaid phone call, WorkingForChange will instruct youon the finer points of left-wing activism, conveniently printed on yourphone bill or credit card statement each month.
The crusade of the week is to block former Missouri GOP Sen. John Ashcroft'snomination for attorney general. (Senate hearings on Ashcroft start the weekof Jan. 15.) Ashcroft's confirmation, the site warns, "could seriouslyhinder civil, women's, consumer and environmental rights, so please haveyour voice heard now before it's too late."
The rant goes on: "The Attorney General is given wide discretion in theenforcement of laws protecting civil, abortion, consumer and environmentalrights. An extremist, Ashcroft has shown an astounding disrespect for all ofthese rights through his voting record in the Senate. Making him our nation's chief law enforcer is like letting the fox guard the henhouse."
The good folks at WorkingForChange -- and, incidentally, their friends atPeople for the American Way, the New York Times, and elsewhere -- areessentially arguing that law enforcement officials need to agree with allthe laws they enforce. Good luck.
And what about Attorney General Janet Reno? Is she a "fox guarding thehenhouse?"
Speaking about the death penalty in 1993, Reno said, "The only reason forthe death penalty is vengeance. What I want is to put the bad people awayand keep them away."
So, Janet Reno opposes the death penalty. Yet it's the law of the land,supported by a large majority of Americans. Should Reno's disagreement withcurrent law have disqualified her from serving as the nation's top lawenforcement official?
Or what about abortion? Janet Reno is pro-choice and has said so publicly.Reno once pointed out that by blockading clinics or talking to providers andpatients, pro-life activists are interfering with a constitutionallyprotected right. Can a woman who holds such views be trusted to protect therights of protestors?
Reno was confirmed, 98-0. That means that all the "extreme" conservative senators were somehow able to overlook their ideological disagreements with Reno and consider only her qualifications.
Doesn't Ashcroft deserve similar consideration? After all, there's noevidence that he would ignore current laws governing abortion. Sen. SusanCollins, a pro-choice Republican from Maine, said recently after meetingwith Ashcroft that she had raised the issue and was satisfied with hisresponse. "I have the utmost confidence that he is going to enforce all thelaws on the books," Collins said. She noted that as a senator from Missouri,Ashcroft supported a ban on violence against abortion clinics.
There really is no question that as attorney general, Ashcroft could beexpected to enforce all laws, not just those with which he agrees. Noattorney general in the history of the United States could have met astandard that required him to like all the laws he was charged withenforcing.
Ultimately, the political jihad against Ashcroft isn't about hisqualifications to serve as attorney general. Rather, it's an attempt toideologically screen nominees though political intimidation -- and as such, it's shameful.
Votes cast in opposition to current law are generally insufficient groundsto disqualify a former legislator from executive branch service. Eachcandidate deserves the benefit of the doubt, an automatic assumption that hewill uphold the law as written, even when personally opposed to it.
Ashcroft served honorably in the Senate by voting his conscience. He will nodoubt serve with equal honor and respect for the law when charged with itsenforcement.