Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

After Ashcroft: back to bipartisan Senate

The confirmation hearings for President Bush’s pick for attorney general, former Sen. John Ashcroft, were marked by partisan wrangling at its worst.

Republicans are outraged at the Democrats who, they say, "trashed" an honest and decent nominee. Democrats point out that they were merely revisiting the trashing of a number of Clinton nominees by Ashcroft.

The Republicans demanded bipartisanship. But where was the spirit of bipartisanship when President Bush insisted on this controversial nominee? Where was it when all 50 Republican senators pledged to vote for Ashcroft’s confirmation before the first word of testimony was heard?

Republicans said the eight Democratic votes (the vote was 58-42 in favor of confirmation) indicate the bipartisan nature of the outcome. But Democrats were careful to make the point that 41 votes is enough to filibuster Bush’s next nomination. That means he’d do well to nominate in keeping with that spirit of bipartisanship he keeps wishing on the Democrats.

It now remains to be seen how Ashcroft delivers on his somewhat puzzling promise to suppress his deep convictions in the vigorous pursuit of laws he considers to be immoral. That will be interesting.

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