Some may not remember the anti-Ashcroft hysteria of yesteryear. Here’s a pretty good summary-snapshot from a 2003 Wall Street Journal editorial:
Frenzy mounts uncontrolled over John Ashcroft, now considered–in those quarters touched by the delirium–enemy No. 1 of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and all that Americans hold dear. What is the cause of these fevers? Is there a doctor in the house?
We may exclude Dr. Howard Dean, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, who has already offered his findings, to wit: “John Ashcroft is not a patriot. John Ashcroft is a descendant of Joseph McCarthy.” Sen. John Kerry, once properly–and eloquently–infuriated over the campaign of cretinous slanders mounted against John McCain in the last Republican presidential primary, has in turn offered his views on the attorney general. During the Democrats’ debate in Baltimore, candidate Kerry said he saw before him “people of every creed, every color, every belief, every religion. This is indeed John Ashcroft’s worst nightmare here.” Richard Gephardt, eyes similarly on the prize, has let America know which of our great national concerns he considered most pressing–a good thing to know about a candidate. The national priority looming largest in his mind is, Mr. Gephardt has let it be known, to fire John Ashcroft in “my first five seconds as president.”
On the subject of the attorney general, no candidate has waxed more passionate than John Edwards, who warned, “we cannot allow people like John Ashcroft to take away our rights, our freedoms, and our liberties.” And further: John Ashcroft and this administration can “spin their wheels all they want about the Patriot Act. . . . They have rolled over our rights for the past two years,” says Mr. Edwards, one of the most uncompromisingly staunch Senate supporters of the Patriot Bill when it was passed after September 11–a fact the candidate seems to have found little or no occasion to mention in the course of his current crusade. Also among those voting for the bill were Rep. Gephardt, and Sens. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham.
It’s hardly necessary by now to list all the charges and the alarms being raised about Mr. Ashcroft, by those portraying the attorney general as the menace to civil liberties that should haunt the dreams of all Americans who want to preserve our way of life. This is no exaggeration; the fever has spread wide, fed largely by the American Civil Liberties Union and allied sentinels of freedom, its signs clear in the ads calling on citizens to “Save Our Constitution,” in emergency rallies led by the ACLU, and such groups as “Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow” and “The New York Bill of Rights Defense Committee.”
Never mind that many of Ashcroft’s worst alleged sins are now pretty much Obama-Pelosi policies. But the Napolitano-Ashcroft comparison is telling.
Ashcroft was demonized for suggesting that Americans be on the lookout for terrorists. One of Napolitano’s main talking points these days is the need for vigilance from the public. Heck, she claimed the “system worked” because a flying Dutchman took out the “alleged” terrorist.
Ashcroft was demonized because he allegedly was turning America into a police state where political enemies were targeted (remember that’s why Naomi Wolfe had a years-long mental breakdown). Janet Napolitano oversaw a report that singles out American citizens and returning vets as potential terrorists because of their political views.
Ashcroft was mocked as a provincial hick who didn’t know much. Napolitano — who runs our immigration service and was governor of a border state — thinks it’s not a crime to illegally cross the border and insists that the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada.
John Ashcroft was a dangerous ideologue because he believed the war on terror is real. But Janet Napolitano isn’t a dangerous ideologue for believing the war on terror isn’t real?
What sounds more ideologically blinkered after 9/11?
Ashcroft’s view: Organized Islamic terrorists want to kill Americans in a holy war.
Napolitano’s view: Islamic terrorist attacks are merely “man caused disasters” by disturbed individuals — who should be assumed to be acting alone as criminals, not terrorists, despite credible evidence — while peaceful “right-wing extremists” should be given extra scrutiny on the assumption they could well be terrorists.