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Jewish World Review Jan. 12, 2001 / 17 Teves, 5761

Jim Wooten

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Practicing what she preaches was Chavez's only offense


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THIS IS NOT the way George W. Bush should start his presidency. Permitting the withdrawal of Linda Chavez won't buy him a day of political peace or goodwill.

A monumental injustice has been done this woman.

The fury of it is that her offense is in being a compassionate conservative who in her personal life practiced the philosophy she espoused in her public life. The tragedy of it is that Bush allowed the partisans who wish neither him nor her any success to destroy a nominee whose offense is that she reached out to help Hispanic and Vietnamese immigrants in need.

It was revealing to witness the parade of Democrats who rose indignantly to express shock, absolute utter shock, that Chavez might have provided shelter and money to an illegal immigrant in a form that might, technically, have converted an act of kindness and charity in domestic "employment."

U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was mighty shocked and troubled. Poor Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader in the Senate, was deep in agony, too. Back in the old days, the nominations of Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, President Clinton's first two choices for attorney general, were scuttled after it was revealed that they had failed to pay Social Security taxes for their maids. These days, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service no longer bothers to conduct raids on employers suspected of employing illegals, a policy change during the Clinton administration, and it winks at the widespread practice of producing and supplying phony employment documents for illegals.

If everybody went to jail who provided employment to illegals either knowingly or deliberately unknowingly, the nation's jails would have achieved the goal of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox: to attract a better class of criminals.

This is not acknowledgment, however, that Chavez did anything that might have disqualified her from an appointment for which she was eminently qualified.

Another critic of the Chavez nomination was the president of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney. The Washington-based CNS news service examined the record of comment from AFL-CIO officers concerning the failure by Baird and Wood to pay their maid's federal payroll tax. T'wasn't there. The outrage. The shock. Anything. There was, instead, silence.

Bush's nominees, of course, are not those whom liberal Democrats would have preferred. But they are mainstream and efforts to discredit them because some Democratic constituencies disagree with their conservative philosophies should be summarily dismissed.

A decade ago, America might have been appalled that a government official hired an illegal, even if one can spin the law to argue that Chavez did create "employment" when she gave money to a battered woman to whom she had given refuge in her home. It might then have been considered a breach of judgment sufficient to disqualify the individual from public service. Since, though, the nation has endured so much serious scandal, so many awful offenses, that had Chavez been guilty of the crime alleged, it would not have been disqualifying.

But she wasn't. She was a woman who had been helped by others to make it through personal hardships and suffering and, from that, felt an obligation to help others. She chose to help immigrants in need, as they testified on Tuesday. "I don't check green cards when I see a woman who is battered, . . . " said Chavez, explaining her help for Marta Mercado, the Guatemalan woman to whom she gave refuge.

So now Bush has let her go.

John Ashcroft, nominee for attorney general, get ready. Next they come for you.



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