Jonah Goldberg

There's good news and bad news. The bad news is that Attorney General John Ashcroft has resigned. The good news is that this is the last time I'll have to offer this annoying full disclosure thingamajig: My wife works for John Ashcroft.

These clunky full disclosures are frustrating, but they're nothing compared to what my wife had to endure as chief speechwriter to the most unfairly vilified public official in modern memory. Jessica's a brilliant and gifted writer, but she could be Shakespeare and the media would focus on the stodginess of Ashcroft's iambic pentameter. Conversely, the AG could read from the phonebook and The New York Times would run the headline, "Ashcroft Lists Innocent Americans to be Interned."

Yet Jessica's frustrations were grains of sand compared to the desert of misery Ashcroft was subjected to.

Remember the hoopla about Ashcroft ordering those topless statues to be covered up? The immediate reaction from the entire press corps, late night comics, and all other "enlightened" people was that Ashcroft was proving he was a prude, a square, a Comstock. I think, in fact, he is probably all of those things. But for reasons that still elude me, many people apparently think we need a real hepcat serving as America's chief law enforcement officer.

Anyway, the statues were covered up because news organizations just thought it was hilarious to frame pictures of Ashcroft from just the right angle so that he was always depicted alongside a giant bronze boobie or two. Of course, doing such a thing to Janet Reno would have been outrageous, but with Ashcroft the assumption was he should lighten up. So an aide ordered the statues covered because that was the only way to stop it. Politically it was a dumb move, but Ashcroft's prudery wasn't what caused it. The press' giggling obsession with it did.

But that was nothing. The entire Democratic Party, which as a group considers it the most outrageous of sins to question anyone's patriotism - even that of paid Communist spies! - was perfectly comfortable questioning Ashcroft's patriotism at the drop of hat. He "is no patriot. He's a direct descendant of Joseph McCarthy," declared Howard Dean, for example.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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