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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 22, 2007 / 5 Sivan, 5767

The redemption of John Ashcroft

By Jonah Goldberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Here's more reason to love democracy: In the Soviet Union, you had to be thrown into internal exile before you could be rehabilitated. In Red China, you were paraded around town with a dunce cap on your head. But to be redeemed in Washington, all you need to do is say no to Alberto Gonzales.


Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee electrified Washington last week. With almost cinematic drama, Comey recounted a story of grasping Bush administration officials trying to badger then-Attorney General John Ashcroft — in his hospital bed — into authorizing sweeping domestic surveillance powers that had already been deemed unlawful by the Justice Department. Ashcroft strained to lift his head off the pillow and castigate then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card for trying an end-run around Comey, the acting attorney general. Ashcroft and his aides reportedly threatened mass resignations if the White House didn't address their concerns. President Bush apparently did that, defusing the crisis.


It now appears that the substance of the disagreement was perhaps a bit less apocalyptic than Comey and Democrats have painted it, but that's beside the point. The new villain in Washington is Gonzales, the current attorney general, and so any principled opponent to Gonzales' alleged abuse of powers must have something going for him. Even the previous villain, Ashcroft.


In 2001, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) led the Democratic opposition to Ashcroft's nomination, casting Ashcroft as a terrifying religious zealot lacking the integrity, temperament and racial "sensitivity" to be attorney general. Last week, Schumer saluted Ashcroft's "fidelity to the rule of law." The liberal Web site Wonkette praised Ashcroft's "heroic stand." The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, who has become a Jeremiah about the dangers of the Christian right that Ashcroft has long personified, dubbed him "an American hero." Ashcroft's rehabilitation was sealed by a Washington Post story about how the former AG was often the only firebreak against the Bush White House. Even Ralph Neas, the hyperpartisan president of People for the American Way, managed to mumble to the Washington Post that Gonzales had managed to make Ashcroft look like a "defender of the Constitution."


Full disclosure: My wife was formerly a senior aide and speechwriter for both Ashcroft and Gonzales, so I always took a keen interest in both attorneys general. It's nice to see conventional wisdom come around to my long-standing and oft-stated view that Gonzales is a subpar hack and Ashcroft a man of integrity. Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't want to have a beer with either of them (certainly not with Ashcroft because I hate to drink alone). But, as my wife, Jessica Gavora, puts it, "The one thing you always knew about John Ashcroft was that he's not for sale."


Of course, Ashcroft's rehab is a byproduct of partisan opportunism. Gonzales is trailing blood in shark-infested political waters, and by telling this story, Comey has thrown the flailing attorney general an anchor instead of a life preserver.


Still, there are some interesting lessons here. First, the attacks on Ashcroft were always grotesquely unfair. As a presidential candidate, Howard Dean — who often decries how Republicans question the patriotism of Democrats — saw nothing wrong with flatly asserting that Ashcroft was "not a patriot. He's a direct descendant of Joseph McCarthy." A second lesson is that the Christian scare that has been spooking liberals often amounts to mass paranoia. In 2001, USA Today's former Supreme Court reporter asked, sincerely, "Can a deeply religious person be attorney general?" The bigotry of the question should be self-evident, and the answer equally obvious. In almost every way, Ashcroft was the Bush administration's most exemplary Cabinet official. An undisputed hawk on the war on terror, he was nonetheless immune to the groupthink that has plagued the Bush White House. From the sound of it, that independence improved administration policymaking.


It also improved Bush politically. In his first term, Ashcroft was the face of the Christian right in the Bush administration, serving as a valuable lightning rod, making Bush seem, and perhaps be, more reasonable. In his second term, Bush picked Gonzales, a quintessential yes man, to replace Ashcroft's useful contrary voice. This only reinforced the bunker mentality that has so ill-served the White House.


Lastly, history — even freshly minted history — has a remarkable way of erasing conventional wisdom. If in 2002 I had written that by 2007 Democrats would be singing Ashcroft's praises as a man of integrity and sound temperament, I would have been laughed out of the room. Right now, predicting a rehabilitation of George W. Bush elicits similar guffaws from the same crowd. But the fact is, if Ashcroft can be rehabilitated, anyone can be.

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