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Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2001 / 21 Teves, 5761

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Who are the truly 'ugly' ones? -- THE ACTIVIST Democrats shooting at Senator John Ashcroft in his bid to become America's next Attorney General have revealed ugliness about themselves -- not the nominee. I'm not talking about their accusations that he's all but put on a pointed white hat and conducted black lynchings on a regular basis. I mean that in the way the Left has gone after Ashcroft and other conservatives in President-elect George W. Bush's cabinet, they've shown they do not understand, much less abide by, the rule-of-law.

Again and again, for instance, regarding Ashcroft I've heard the refrain from Democrats, "how can he be pro-life and yet uphold the law on abortion?" given that current law largely suports the abortion-rights agenda. In other words, to the Left when one's personal views and the law are at odds, why, naturally one's personal views prevail. That, of course, is too often the liberal way - an admission they freely if unwittingly make when they hurl such accusations at John Aschroft. (They've also villified him for the "crimes" of being for gun-rights and against racial preferences.)

Apparently these folks are so comfortable with using Cabinet offices to create law instead of to enforce existing law, so content to see judges write new law instead of interpret existing law, that they cannot fathom a responsible office-holder who will honor the rule-of-law and put his own political views aside as he upholds the law.

So too Interior Secretary-designate Gale Norton has been attacked because she doesn't personally favor stringent environmental laws. And Linda Chavez, before she resigned her nomination to be Labor Secretary, was beaten-up for opposing racial quotas. The Left apparently assumes that such personal philosophies would automatically trump the nominees' ability and intention to enact the law as it currently exists in these areas.

That is because such liberals seem to believe that enforcing the law comes down to how one "feels" about it - not about upholding the rule-of-law itself regardless of one's own personal convictions. Yet the latter is what is absolutely necessary for the preservation of civilized society.

The agenda of ideology over law has come about for the Left partly because it's the way activist Democrats have generally had to go about gaining power. ("Exhibit A," of course, was their tactics in the Florida election debacle.) Too often they appoint judges and executive branch officers who will create and twist the law, even the Constitution itself, to help enforce what the legislature in speaking for the people would never enact. Strict gun-control, abortion-on-demand, banning religious expression from schools, forced busing and draconian environmental regulations come to mind -- for starters. Thus Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt recently boasted that a huge percentage of the Clinton agenda for his department, which couldn't be passed legislatively, was effectively passed through his regulations.

But this view is also a result of eight years of the Clinton Administration trashing the rule-of-law. President Clinton and his perjury win the prize there, but other members of his Administration can take some bows too, chief among them Attorney General Janet Reno. There at least three times when her senior officials assigned to look into alleged campaign fundraising violations by Vice President Gore urged her to appoint a special counsel to investigate further, she helped the VEEP out of big-time trouble by saying "no."

Finally, the agenda of ideology over the law is a result of committed liberals really believing they are morally superior to conservatives. That conservatives are so racist, so sexist, so mean-spirited, the ends justify the means and anything done to overthrow such folks, including throwing out the law with them, is morally justified. Any doubts? Just consider that one regularly hears conservatives, publicly and privately, genuinely say "liberals are well meaning, good people, it's just that their policies don't work." Yet when was the last time a committed liberal was heard to comment that "conservatives are well-meaning, good people, but. . ."

No no, they are just "hate-mongers."

And that's why there is incomprehension among activist Democrats that one could be absolutely committed to the rule-of-law inspite of one's personal feelings about it, even while hoping or working (when appropriate) to change the law. So what it may come down to for committed liberals is not outrage because of the mistaken belief that John Ashcroft or other Bush appointees would impose their own personal political views instead of the law: the outrage may really be over the fact that the Left is no longer in a position to do any imposing.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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09/14/00: The stupidity of smart growth
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08/16/00: A tale of two wives
08/09/00: The Brady Bill isn't achieving its aim
08/01/00: Attention feminists: How to really keep our daughters safe
07/25/00: Everything is protective: the parents, the gear, the age
07/18/00: Say it ain't so, Ann
07/11/00: Limiting a child's choices
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06/21/00: It's a bad time to be a boy in America
06/13/00: The state of our unions
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05/17/00: The natural food threat
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05/03/00: Pass the fat, please
04/25/00: Something just for boys
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04/10/00: Women warriors
04/05/00: Confessions of a soccer mom
03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
03/14/00: Not child advocates, but self-advocates
03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
02/06/00: Harassing the harassers
01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
01/10/00: Monica may be onto something
12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
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10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

© 2001, Scripps Howard News Service