The Word is Out: "Get Ashcroft!"
Jude Wanniski
December 27, 2000


To: Sen. John Ashcroft [R-MO]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Brace Yourself

For a minute, I thought you might go through the confirmation process as slick as a whistle and take your post as Attorney General a month from now, when President-elect George W. Bush is inaugurated. Now it is becoming clear the Democratic special-interest coalition has decided to start the new year off with a bang over your nomination. It plans to do to you what it did to U.S. District Judge Robert Bork in denying him the Supreme Court seat to which he had been nominated by Ronald Reagan, and what it did to U.S. District Judge Clarence Thomas in almost keeping him from occupying the seat he now holds on the Supreme Court.

If it were just the AG seat involved, I do not think the Coalition of Feminists, Greenies, and Black and Hispanic leaders would do more than pro forma protests -- a shot across the bow. It will be worse than that, I fear. The likelihood that President Bush would tap you for the Supreme Court as soon as one of the older Justices retires -- perhaps Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- means they will do everything they can to squash you now, so there would be almost zero chance of that happening, even if you survive this gauntlet.

With the Republicans now about to occupy the executive and legislative branches of the federal government for the first time in a half century, the old-time liberals see their raison d’etre withering on the political vine. Even if they can somehow prevent his re-election in 2004, they know George W. Bush could wind up filling as many as four Supreme Court seats in these next few years, so they might as well start blasting now. You are first. The enormous black turnout against Bush on November 7 was practically an act of desperation, engineered with unprecedented scare tactics.

The traditional black leaders -- Jesse Jackson, Kweisi Mfume and Julian Bond of the NAACP, Al Sharpton -- engaged in shameless and shameful political behavior they never will be able to live down. They threw everything they had against Bush and still lost, which is why there was so much race-baiting in Florida during the “recount” process and why it is continuing with the “unofficial recounting.” The tactic is to keep the Black community inflamed for the next two years with the intent of taking the Senate and House, where they can continue the shakedown policies that keep them in federal clover.

You’re not an ideal target for them, John, because your record as a public servant and as a human being is about as good as it possibly could be. That did not stop them, however, when it came to Bob Bork or to Clarence Thomas, both of whom lived exemplary lives. They will not give a hoot if they have to make up stuff about you or find people willing to bear false witness against you. Because they are able to make life difficult for politicians who cross them, they can insist that the harshest kinds of arguments are made against you in laying the foundation for a party-line vote against you. In the election campaign, Jesse Jackson repeated his mantra over and over again about George W. Bush being the candidate of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. He never mentioned Senator John Ashcroft. Now I see you are being characterized as the most conservative member of the United States Senate. I have yet to see in the NYTimes any mention of the fact that your wife Janet is a professor at Howard, the nation’s premiere black university. It does not fit with the plan to demonize you as a racist who once accepted an honorary degree at Bob Jones U.

Believe me, before this is over and done with, you will know the process of demonization, as practiced by this tired old coalition as it attempts to cling to its power base. I recommend you follow the commentary at one of my favorite websites,, where Cedric Muhammad, who happens to be a member of the Nation of Islam, keeps score on these kinds of developments. In his Tuesday commentary, he notes how President-elect Bush has Jesse, Kweisi & Co. scared out of their wits by inviting Black religious and spiritual leaders to meet with him for discussions about the future role of faith-based institutions in community work. On his Sunday tv show, the Rev. Jesse warns darkly about mixing government and religion. Now Julian Bond of the NAACP has announced that your nomination as AG has ended ANY possibility of racial reconciliation. This is the same Stepin-Fetchit who used a pile of white cash to finance the tv spot showing Dubya in a pickup truck, dragging a black body in chains down a dirt country road.

I remember how proud I was of you when I asked you if you would be willing to sit next to Minister Louis Farrakhan at dinner, when you both were at my annual supply-side conference in Boca Raton, Fla. in early 1997. Jack Kemp was so terrified of being seen with Min. Farrakhan that he tried everything he could to break his commitment to speak at the conference, and when he did come, he ran in, spoke, and ran out without ever looking Min. Farrakhan in the eye. (He since has met the Minister and apologized for his behavior.) As far as I know, you are the only white member of Congress ever to have broken bread with Min. Farrakhan, and as you know from that dinner conversation, there is nothing about him that you could ever characterize as bigoted or anti-Semitic. Since then, Ed Rendell, a Jew, a former Mayor of Philadelphia, and now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, not only met with Min. Farrakhan, but also joined hands with him in prayer. And of course Sen. Joseph Lieberman in September indicated he had been told by fellow Jews that Min. Farrakhan was not the bad fellow he is said to be, and that he would meet with him. Perhaps it was your wife Janet who nudged you toward the dinner table that night, but still, I still think it was a brave thing for you to do... and that you would some day be rewarded for that human act. I’ll bet Min. Farrakhan will be rooting for you.

So will I, of course. I expect you will be a great success as AG -- and then at the SCOTUS!