Alright, now we're talkin'!
It took a few days for the mainstream media to pick up my story about John Ashcroft's interview with the Southern Partisan magazine (first published here five days ago, thank you.). But finally we're off and running.
This article published overnight by the Associated Press covers the story in some detail. And, yes, in case you're wondering they came out with it after my piece appeared in Slate, and gave no credit.
But enough of my pathetic whining! It's actually a pretty solid piece. Well worth reading.
Now the fun part starts. We get to listen to the Ashcroftians spin the story and explain why the whole thing's really not a big deal.
Attempt Number One
Bush spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss (whom Talking Points remembers as being quite helpful back when she was spokeswoman for Steve Forbes) said Ashcroft's comments reflected that he "believes in an exact reading on history."
He believes in an exact reading on history â¦ And that means what exactly?
Attempt Number Two
The Bushies and the Ashcroftians told the AP:
As Missouri governor from 1985 to 1993, Ashcroft signed into law a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil rights leader; established musician Scott Joplin's house as Missouri's only historic site honoring a black person; created an award honoring black educator George Washington Carver; named a black woman to a state judgeship; and led a fight to save Lincoln University, which was founded by black soldiers.
You know, I also hear he once went to dinner with a black guy from Kansas City.
Okay, sorry, that was uncalled for. But really. So Ashcroft was not wacky enough to be one of the one or two governors who tried to veto an MLK holiday bill. And he appointed one black woman to be a judge. I mean, geez, no one's saying Ashcroft is a Klansman after all. I would hope he'd named one African-American to the bench during eight years as governor of a state with a large African-American population.
But, wait, there's more! When Ashcroft thought of running to be the head of the RNC in 1993 he said the party should be "tolerant" and avoid being "mistakenly portrayed as petty, divisive and mean-spirited."
That's bold -- way bold.
More on point is the fact, reported in the AP story, that George Bush, Sr. appointed Ashcroft to his commission on race and minorities in America. And Ashcroft was one of only two of the forty commission members who refused to sign the final report. Ashcroft said the report's "generalizations about setbacks in progress are overly broad and counterproductive."
Talking Points hasn't seen the report. But he imagines that since it was sponsored by President Bush it probably wasn't a particularly afro-centric document, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, the point isn't that Ashcroft's a racist. But then that's not the standard, is it? Given all the evidence, let's just say that civil rights enforcement just doesn't really seem like John Ashcroft's cup of tea.
And since the AG is the head civil rights enforcer. Maybe he just ain't the right guy for the job.