On Ashcroft and Norton

I find the Republican strategy on these selections aggravating because, as usual, it is devoid of any offense.

What do I mean?

Let's consider for a moment just whom these nominees are destined to replace — Bruce Babbitt and Janet Reno.


It's almost comical to think about it. Babbitt and Reno are actually guilty of every phony charge being hurled at their replacements — as well as many others far more serious. Let's take a closer look:

Bruce Babbitt: In his non-contentious Senate confirmation hearings, Babbitt said he had represented ranchers, small towns, Indian tribes and environmental group.

“If I'm confirmed, it will be my task to represent not any one of these groups … but to represent the public interest, to reconcile the conflicts, to find common ground.”

In fact, Babbitt has done the opposite — taking sides with radical environmentalists, opposing property rights and always protecting his own economic and political interests rather than the public's.

Since the 1970s, Babbitt has been criticized over his involvement with Emprise Corp. and later Delaware North Corp. As both attorney general of Arizona and as governor, Babbitt supported the company with links to organized crime, which, under his watch, became the concessionaire for Yosemite National Park. Oh, by the way, Babbitt took a $45,000 payoff from the company to ensure it retained its dog-racing licenses in the state.

In 1996, Babbitt orchestrated the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante as a national monument through a presidential executive order. This locked up 1.7 million acres in Utah. He didn't do it with a compromise. He didn't do it after talking to local people. He took the action, and it was a shock to the people of Utah.

Babbitt was later the target of a Senate and independent counsel investigation of his decision to deny one group of Indians permission to open a casino while the Democratic National Committee was soliciting and accepting $300,000 from another tribe.

To summarize, Babbitt has been a bad joke on the American people. He's fortunate to have escaped a prison sentence following a lifetime of self-dealing under the guise of eco-activism.

Janet Reno: While critics of Ashcroft say he is blinded by ideology and fear he will not uphold the law of the land, Reno has been blinded by her desire to keep her job at all costs. Thus, she steadfastly refused to hand off investigations of her own administration to independent counsels and stonewalled congressional probes.

On top of that, let us never forget that she took responsibility for the deaths of innocent men, women and children in Waco, Texas. And the images of young Elian Gonzalez being snatched by armed federal agents and returned forcibly to Cuba are indelibly etched on America's conscience — if it still has one after eight years of Clintonism.

Her two terms as attorney general have been marked by law-breaking, cover-up and death. Reno shouldn't be walking away from her position to a life of writing and speaking. She ought to be dragged away from her office in chains.

At any time, the Congress of the United States could have — and should have — called for the resignations of Babbitt and Reno. They have disgraced their offices through personal and public scandal. They have insulated themselves from criticism and meaningful investigations.

That any serious person can look at their replacements — a man and a woman of unquestioned character and integrity — as threats to these offices is ludicrous. And that's what defenders of Norton and Ashcroft need to say in public, out loud, every single time these nominees are questioned by disingenuous politicians driven themselves only by ideological blindness.

Have we forgotten already who has been running Interior and Justice for the last eight years? How can anyone take seriously criticism of Norton and Ashcroft by the same people who have defended Babbitt and Reno? Why isn't anyone pointing out the hypocrisy?

I'm stunned that the pundits are not reminding the American people just whom Norton and Ashcroft are replacing. With such corrupt, contemptible predecessors still holding office, the Senate ought to be beating a hasty path to the confirmation of two of Bush's best nominees.

(This article can also be found on WorldNetDaily.com).

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