Ashcroft and the blowhard discuss

Posted: Jan 17, 2001 12:00 AM
Republican presidents need to start sending at least one Potemkin nominee to the Senate for confirmation hearings. If there were just one Cabinet nominee willing to sacrifice his appointment for the opportunity to yell back at that adulterous drunk, Sen. Teddy Kennedy might not be so cavalier before launching his premeditated vituperations.

Whatever else the "Stop (fill in name here)! Task Force" can say about John Ashcroft, they cannot say that he drunkenly plunged a woman to a horrifying watery death and then fled the scene of the accident, relying on his family's connections to paper over the woman's death.

They cannot say that John Ashcroft was thrown out of college for cheating -- or that he got into college on the basis of his family pedigree. (Inasmuch as Ashcroft attended an Ivy League college, it was not much help having a father who was a Pentecostal minister, rather than, say, a bootlegger.)

Poor John Ashcroft couldn't say any of that when Sen. Kennedy erupted in gin-soaked venom. He has higher aspirations than talking back to a dissolute slob for laughs. But surely there is someone out there who would go for laughs. Bush should find that guy.

In the first day of the Ashcroft hearings, Sen. Kennedy waxed nostalgic over a court-ordered "voluntary desegregation" plan, issuing blood-curdling screams about "the kids": "How costly was this going to be, Sen. Ashcroft, before you were going to say that those kids going in lousy schools, that you were going to do something about it?"

You remember what a fabulous success court-ordered "desegregation" plans have been. Few failures have been more spectacular. Illiterate students knifing one another between acts of sodomy in the stairwell is just one of the many eggs that had to be broken to make the left's omelette of transferring power from states to the federal government.

It's one thing for the federal courts to inform the states and localities that they cannot discriminate on the basis of race -- that was duly accomplished back in 1954. It's really quite another for unelected judges to be imposing $2 billion property taxes and ordering school districts to build opulent school campuses replete with Olympic-sized pools, 25-acre wildlife sanctuaries and model United Nations (with simultaneous translation facilities!).

That's what a federal judge did to Kansas City, Mo., under the Olympic-Sized Pool and Tax-Them-Till-They-Scream clauses of the U.S. Constitution. (As a matter of technical constitutional law, the Constitution does not strictly require states to provide public school students with petting farms.)

But over the past several decades, any number of federal judges got it into their heads that black students had to sit next to white students in order to learn. It was all the rage at the elite universities -- Harvard Law School, in particular. Justice Clarence Thomas responded to the theory by saying, "It never ceases to amaze me that the courts are so willing to assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior."

In any event, the theory was that if the federal courts ordered the states to spend gobs of money building "model schools" with petting farms (and highly paid teachers' unions) in the mostly black city schools, the all-important white students would come. Surrounded by white people, black students' education would improve. (The popular appeal of this charming notion gives you some idea why the most frequent modifier to "federal judge" is "unelected.")

Needless to say, having federal judges and Harvard professors run local school districts on the basis of a preposterous racist theory nearly wrecked school system after school system.

Federal judges managed to wrest control of the school systems in the first place through scam lawsuits between non-adverse parties. It worked like this: A few parents would sue the school board, and the school board would promptly admit guilt. Then the amiable adversaries would giddily enter "voluntary" settlement agreements requiring the school boards to make lavish improvements (and generously increase the salaries of school administrators). The court would enter an order confirming the "voluntary" settlement -- and the taxpayers would be stuck with the bill.

These "voluntary" desegregation plans were voluntary in the same way you "volunteer" your wallet to a couple of con men who have just staged a phony confrontation to abet picking your pocket. As Ashcroft explained his objections to the "voluntary" desegregation plan to Sen. Kopechne, "the thing was that the state was going to have to pay for everything that people volunteered to do." The plans also had as much to do with desegregation as -- well -- a pickpocket does.

It's time to send in Alan Keyes. He could probably explain all this to the drunk with some trenchancy.