Being John Ashcroft

You think it's easy?

By Jonathan Valania
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 27, 2003

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Jesus loves you, John Ashcroft. This you know, for the Bible told you so. And they hate you for it, these liberal heathens, these infidels of the media elite, these secular humanists.

You were expecting this, for it was written long ago: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

They mock your piety, call you Ned Flanders and worse. Racist. Homophobe. American Taliban. You pay them no mind. As per the Lord's example, you turn the other cheek.

"For every crucifixion there is a resurrection," you say.

You were born, or more accurately, begat in 1942, son of an Assemblies of God preacher man. Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and Pat Robertson are among your brothers and sisters in the Assembly of God.

In accordance with your faith, you are your own preacher. As such, you are a faith healer.

You speak in tongues. You forswear all the vices of sin and temptation: drinking, smoking, pornography, homosexuality and dancing. Yes, dancing.

You've always kept busy because idle hands are the devil's playthings. You graduated from Yale in 1964, with honors. You earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in the Summer of Love, the year of the Lord 1967. You went on to teach business law at Southwest Missouri State University, for which you were given an occupational deferment that kept you from serving in Vietnam.

It was not your calling to fight the godless communists. No, the Lord needed you right here at home, schooling God's children in the intricacies of corporate jurisprudence.

Soon you answered an even higher calling: politics. God smiled on you, John Ashcroft, and in 1976 you were narrowly elected state attorney general, a post you would hold for eight years, followed by another eight as governor and six more as a U.S. senator.

Every time you were sworn in to office, your father anointed you with cooking oil, just like David in the Bible. When you were sworn in as attorney general, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did the honors.

Your tenure as governor of Missouri was wrought with cruel secular ironies. You were unsuccessfully sued by a fetus, whose lawyers claimed was illegally imprisoned in the uterus of a criminal mother. Which is ironic given your outspoken opposition to abortion.

Life, as you believe, may begin at conception, but apparently due process does not. You also fought a court-ordered school desegregation plan because, you said, it imposed an unfair tax burden on the citizens of Missouri.

But you were not a racist, you insisted. In fact, your daddy made sure to turn you away from prejudice by making you listen to Mahalia Jackson and read black novelist Richard Wright when you were a boy. Furthermore, your parents let black guests rake the leaves in the backyard, just as they would any white guests.

In A.D. 2000, the Lord tested you yet again, pitting you in a fight for your political life against a dead man. You were running for reelection to Congress against Mel Carnahan. There was a bitter political rivalry between you two, extending all the way back to the days when you were governor and he was lieutenant governor, and you went out of your way to clarify in the courts that you did not automatically cede gubernatorial power to him whenever you left the state.

The Senate race was as tight as it was ugly. Citing your praise of the Southern Confederacy, Carnahan's people inferred to voters that you had a problem with black people. Your people responded by circulating photos of Carnahan in blackface. And then, less than a month before the election, Carnahan died in a plane crash, along with his son and a trusted aide. The Missouri governor appointed his wife, Jean, to stand in his stead in the election.

Who could vote against a mourning widow and mother? Almost nobody. You took it like a man. Even your enemies conceded that. You did not challenge the election, even though you had numerous grounds to do so.

When your appointment as the nation's top cop squeaked by Congress in a 52-48 vote, you went on a charm offensive to cleanse yourself of the twin stains of racism and homophobia your critics painted you with, meeting with Log Cabin Republicans and speaking out forcefully against racial profiling.

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