Thomas Sowell

That's class. That's integrity. People familiar with his career give Ashcroft high marks in such things, even when they disagree with his conservative politics. Nowhere are integrity and conscience needed more than in the post of attorney general, to which he has been nominated. It is especially needed now, after the corrupt way the Justice Department has been used throughout the Clinton administration.

Shrill objections to John Ashcroft are essentially pay-offs to two liberal constituencies. Pro-abortion forces do not like the fact that Senator Ashcroft is pro-life, so he is being trashed in order to appease them. Then the frustrated black liberal establishment needs someone thrown to them as a sacrificial victim, to validate their power and to keep alive in other blacks the sense of paranoia and resentment on which the leaders' careers depend.

There are people on both sides of the abortion issue who seem to judge everyone according to that one issue, even when these are candidates for elective or appointed posts that do not deal with abortion. The cabinet nominees of president-elect Bush include people on both sides of that particular issue, but the pro-abortion forces need to keep paranoia alive among their constituency as much as the black caucus or the increasingly irrelevant civil rights organizations do.

Delegitimizing those who are to occupy high places in government is not just a loss inflicted on those particular individuals. It undermines public confidence in government itself and thereby reduces the effectiveness with which government can do its job.

You cannot expect to get top quality people in government if that means becoming a target for campaigns of systematic lies and slander. There will of course always be warm bodies available to fill government positions. But there are already too many government positions filled by people who are just warm bodies.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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