Skip to comments.Ashcroft's Skirmish with the Press (Big Barf)
Posted on 12/07/2001 8:02:03 PM PST by StoneWallJack
JIM LEHRER: Speaking of something else, Attorney General Ashcroft's skirmish mostly with the press over these anti-terror policies, today many newspaper editorials were suggesting that in his testimony yesterday he suggested that anybody who disagreed with his policies is somehow undermining, is giving ammunition to America's enemies and pause to its friends. How do you sort through this?
DAVID BROOKS: He wanted to make sure he wasn't accused of winning with charm alone, because he had no charm at all yesterday. He had a stylish defeat and a substantive victory. We in the media were all predicting this bloody hearing. And what happened? The hearing was not bloody on substantive grounds. The members of the US Senate came very close to his position on all sorts of issues. There was this argument whether what the Bush administration said was constitutional. That argument has fallen away as the Senators have been reassured.
Senator Pat Leahy was not often the media horror land that the reports have been in. He dealt with reality. He appreciated the fact the administration has said these will not be secret military tribunals. There will be judicial review. What he and other Democrats tried to do was just pin it down, and so it was a very, in one sense on substantive grounds a very civil exchange. On stylistic grounds, Ashcroft said this incredibly stupid thing questioning the patriotism of people who criticized him, which was insane and has stolen the headlines.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. But today his spokeswoman put out a statement, and I quote "Anyone who reported", like David Brooks just reported, "Anyone who reported this morning that he criticized", meaning Ashcroft criticized anyone who opposed him was absolutely wrong and in doing because-- anyhow, it reported anybody who opposed him was anti-American anything like that, didn't get it right. How do you read this thing, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: I agree with David's analysis of what the Attorney General said. He defiantly and deliberately chose to confuse dissent with disloyalty. There is no doubt about it.
The civil liberties debate JIM LEHRER: Here's the exact words. Here's what she said, Mindy Tucker, "Anyone who reported this morning that he criticized anyone who opposed him was absolutely wrong and in doing so became a part of the exact problem he was describing."
MARK SHIELDS: Jim, it was the written statement, it was his opening statement: "They give ammunition to America's enemies." I mean this was so evocative of an earlier era when liberals and democrats were branded as soft on communism. All of a sudden could you see soft on terrorism coming in.
And, you know, I'm just reminded of the words of a great American senator who said anybody who criticizes the United States pays her an implied tribute, pays the country an implied tribute because it's saying, 'I know we can be better. I know we can improve.' And I thought what he did yesterday was cheap politics. I think it did work. I think it knocked the Democrats, with the conspicuous exception of John Edwards, back on their heels and they chose to concentrate on his rather bizarre position on guns.
John Ashcroft, I mean you have to give him credit, he's loyal to the NRA, he says we can lock up people for three months, we don't have to charge them with anything. We don't have to let them see a lawyer. We can try them in secret, but by God Almighty, we're not going to reveal whether they bought six semiautomatic weapons at a gun show. That would somehow be violating their privacy.
DAVID BROOKS: Everybody is allowed to see a lawyer. On the gun issue, he's right to say the law that was passed on this gun control legislation says, 'I can't do that. I can't just allow the FBI or anybody to go look at the gun records and then go fishing for suspects.' That was written explicitly in the law. Chuck Schumer then said should we change the law, which was a fair question. He didn't have a good answer to that. Let me talk a bit about the Ashcroft psychology because that's something that conservatives understand, it's hard for a lot of other people to understand. You come to Washington as a conservative, you feel a little alienated. You come as a Christian conservative, you feel more so because somehow you feel your values are under assault every day. And what happens is you only deal with your intimates, you only deal with conservatives and you feel like the whole town is out to get you. And so you get this phenomenon that you see again and again in Republican administrations, have one or two high administration officials insulating themselves and developing this psychology that anything I do that liberals like is somehow a failure of my character. I think Ashcroft is falling into this very unfortunate pattern.
JIM LEHRER: Do you see it getting better or worse or
DAVID BROOKS: It just spirals. And that Mindy Tucker comment is sort of a symptom of this psychological state. If I were privileged to be friends with John Ashcroft, I would say, 'You have got to understand that people will give you a chance if you only reach out with some sense of warmth, some sense of understanding of where they're coming from,'which he is not doing right now.
JIM LEHRER: Does that make sense to you, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: It does, Jim. He serves a political purpose for both sides right now. I mean Democrats don't want to criticize a president who's at 86 percent. They want to blame the policies on him even though they're George Bush's policies. So John Ashcroft .
JIM LEHRER: Beat up on John Ashcroft.
MARK SHIELDS: He's not a terribly appealing public figure. He can do it. And he is a lightning rod for the Republicans as well.
Uh, Mark, they were soft on communism! And is anybody weaker than David Brooks when it comes to representing conservatives?
You must have a strong stomach indeed to watch this crap. A man's gotta draw the line somewhere.:-}
What a bunch of mindless psycho-babble. I guess this explains how Brooks earned a chair on Lehrer's leftist program. This, from someone who allegedly is a conservative? Gimme a break! What I got to see of the hearing revealed an Attorney General with the gloves off, not someone with the bunker mentality described by Brooks. Compared to the dimwit Reno, Ashcroft is sunshine and fresh air. I find it too painful to contemplate what our current circumstances would be if Reno were still in office.
It is that simple. Ashcroft scorched their sorry behinds - and their liberal press buddies are taking vengeance.
He needs to do so, PDQ -- or, if he can't, to inform the President that he should find himself a new AG.