I guess it'd be too much to ask to find out that Interior Secretary nominee Gale Norton also made warm-n-fuzzy remarks about the Confederacy, right?
Well, hey, it's your lucky day!
Turns out in a 1996 speech Norton said ""We lost too much" when the South lost the Civil War.
Now, in fairness, Norton did explicitly say she was not referring to slavery but rather states-rights -- something that didn't occur to John Ashcroft to say. Norton referred to that whole slavery thing as " bad facts" which clouded the merits of states-rights.
Give her credit for at least making this clear. Sure it's a clumsy and foolish way to make the point. But it's different from what Ashcroft said. (Can't Bush find cabinet secretaries who aren't clumsy and foolish. Come on! How's Bush gonna apply a standard like that!?) But let's make some other points clear as well.
Slavery was the chief evil of the Confederacy, not the only one.
It's one thing to march around in Confederate uniforms before heading back to the barn for a couple dozen bottles of Michelob. But to praise the Confederacy's ideology is deeply suspect.
The doctrines of Nullification, Interposition, States-Rights, and Secession were fundamentally anti-Democratic and they were heretical perversions of the nation's constitutional order. And in case you're really into this stuff, no, they can't be justified with reference to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99! (What is he talking about? Fugghedaboutit! More history grad school stuff.)
The leaders of the Confederacy were, of course, also traitors.
The point here isn't history, though. The fact that Norton has an antediluvian and perverted states-rights understanding of the constitutional order isn't offensive, or obscene. But it's extremely significant in judging whether she's fit to serve as the custodian of the national domain.
P.S. The ironically named Independent Institute was the venue where Norton gave her speech. And they got in a bit trouble back in Fall of 1999. In the summer of '99 the Institute purchased full page ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post signed by 240 academics arguing in support of Microsoft against the government anti-trust suit. Well, turned out Microsoft had used the Independence Institute as a front and Microsoft had purchased the ads. Ouch! Not clever. Not clever at all.
P.P.S. Next up, Talking Points explains why Bill Bennet is an irredeemable, pretentious blowhard. What does this have to do with Gale Norton? Nothing. It's just time to say it.