Jonah Goldberg tells us why he thinks John Ashcroft's departure is a big loss for America. Despite his despisers and those who gasped at the threat to civil liberties every time the Attorney General sneezed, this nation is deeply indebted to John Ashcroft for his service. Goldberg sums up why in this paragraph:
Elsewhere in the column Jonah takes on the major criticisms that have been relentlessly levelled at Ashcroft over the last several years and shows them to be utterly without serious merit. He neglects to mention, however, that with all the foaming-at-the-mouth allegations of how Ashcroft was infringing on civil liberties, never once was there an episode during his tenure comparable to the immolation of dozens of women and children in Waco, Texas, or the shootings of other innocent women and children by federal agents in Idaho under Janet Reno. Nor was there anything nearly as shameful as the Elien Gonzalez episode in Florida.
He might have noted, too, that Ashcroft became Attorney General after losing a bid to retain his senate seat. He lost the election because he chose not to campaign after his opponent was killed in an airplane crash. His opponent's wife allowed her name to be placed on the ballot and, in an outpouring of sympathy, she won. Ashcroft's decision not to campaign against her was an act of graciousness that's hard to imagine his detractors duplicating.
Goldberg also declines to mention the real animus behind the vilification of this dedicated public servant. Ashcroft is seen as a threat by, and to, the secular left chiefly because of his strong Christian convictions. The left cannot abide the thought that someone in power would take Christianity seriously. Ashcroft does, and consequently nothing he could have done short of resigning would have mollified the attack dogs in the press and elsewhere.
The left, whether consciously or not, wishes to make it as difficult as possible for a man or woman of faith to serve in the upper reaches of government. They ultimately may be successful in making public service so personally unpleasant that many good people will simply avoid it, but, if so, our government will suffer grievously from the want of most of the virtues without which any government becomes corrupt and ineffective.
Men like John Ashcroft are the salt of the earth, his Justice Department was a breath of fresh air after the Janet Reno interlude, and he will be greatly missed by those who admire rectitude, integrity, and common sense in their leaders.