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Democrats should approve Ashcroft

Jan. 26, 2001

Politics is a game, and nowhere else is that more apparent than in Washington, D.C. It's all about Republicans vs. Democrats, with both groups constantly attempting to out-maneuver each other, and ultimately, to gain more power in the eyes of the public. And what the Democrats in Congress are now doing to Attorney-General designate John Ashcroft is a prime example of this.

Ashcroft may be a hardcore right-winger. He may be anti-affirmative action. He may be anti-abortion, even though he is in charge of 'enforcing' the nation's abortion rights laws. He is all of these. He knows it, the Congress knows it, and everyone else knows it. But hear is a message for all the congressional Democrats: Ashcroft is, after all, a Republican.

But in grilling Ashcroft day after day, as they did last week -- and in delaying the hearings until next week, as the Democratic leadership announced it would do Wednesday -- the Democrats are taking this game too far. There comes a point in every basketball game when you know your team is going to lose. For the Democratic Party, that point came when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Vice President Al Gore. And despite the relatively smooth confirmation hearings for Bush's other designees, the Democrats are using Ashcroft as a way to vent anger over the Supreme Court's actions, and mainly, to expose Ashcroft's extreme partisan leanings and try to get Bush's administration off on a sour note.

But there are better, more respectable ways to expose someone's political leanings than forcing us to watch days of confirmation hearings on the cable news networks. A simple press conference by the Democratic leadership stating their opposition to Ashcroft's policy stances would have done the job just the same. President George W. Bush promised to 'bring the country together' and have a bipartisan administration. So far, he has not delivered, and people need to realize that. And as for getting Bush off to a bad start, our new president did a good enough job of that one, himself, with his first-day executive order banning U.S. funding to international family planning organizations.

The Democrats basically agree that the votes to block Ashcroft from confirmation do not exist; yet they still plow ahead in their opposition, as though the country actually enjoys the process. I have seen enough of Ashcroft on the news and I have heard too much about his rightward leanings. Bush is a Republican, and Republicans usually nominate Republicans for Cabinet positions. If there is a question as to whether Ashcroft could handle the job, then by all means, congressional Democrats should try to block him. But that's not the case.

Ashcroft is prepared and capable. The liberal Democrats do not want him simply because he is conservative. But it's silly to attempt to block a nomination just because a guy is in a different party.

Politics is all a game, but the game the Democrats are playing with Ashcroft is now pointless. He will be confirmed, and there is no legitimate reason that he should not be.

The Democrats have made their point. Now they need to move on.

CLINT COX

Opinion writer