Oddly, commentators scratch their heads, wondering why, with more rational appointments, Bush would choose such a man. Could it be that George and bigotry aren't enemies? Or, more to the point, maybe we should assume the appointment is deliberate, with an end in mind -- perhaps to bury the Florida situation once and for all.
Stranger still, comments from the right last week were to this effect: "OK, we've heard about all of this stuff. We've heard both sides. Now let's get on with the appointment. We've had enough unreasonableness from the opposition." Such arguments appear to be winning; and a man who refers to Confederate war heroes as "patriots" might be put in charge of investigating a voting situation that left blacks believing they were disenfranchised.
The situation with Ashcroft should bring up memories of the Clarence Thomas hearings. As with Thomas, we don't seem to be able to disqualify Ashcroft on his own merits, or lack of such. Unless we dig up a co-ed skeleton in the closet or a sexually harassed co-worker, he'll probably be the next attorney general. Apparently, the conflict between believing in the inferiority of minorities and enforcing their liberty doesn't present as discernable a problem. Thus, judicial competence and integrity take a back seat.
What remains to be seen is if the angriest throng of civil rights and feminist groups since the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork will have any effect on the process. Do these special interests get the media coverage and analysis they deserve? The answer is no, for reasons that follow
The Bush coalition itself, in part, is the extended arm of conservatism and the endeavors of large corporations. Especially during the 20th century, democratic, progressive and comprehensive political analysis -- incorporating both sides of an issue, its history and its future -- has been an enemy to the government/big business alliance. Mass corporate success requires mass control. To change as we have, from a society of cantankerous individualists in the majority to one that runs on profit and the ability to buy more and more things of dubious character or quality, has left in-depth political analysis in the hands of a minority of dissident voices, often distrusted by the mainstream.
A large part of this distrust stems from information, especially in our educational system, that is pre-approved and pre-packaged, even in terms of how one should think. Knowing "the right information" or "meeting standards" is then made the measure of the developing individual.
Look to the Bush administration, then, to promote dependency on corporate institutions and their allies. Such reliance won't always be best for the human being. The power shortage in California, for example, has already led the administration to subtly imply that environmental rules are unnecessarily restricting plant output. Look for more promotion of environmental degradation.
Adults who are trained to depend on institutions are susceptible to the reams of all forms of propaganda being made. Nonsense now also speeds across the information highway. One example was the Internet cynicism floating around at the beginning of Clinton's second term. This diatribe pointed out a list of folks who had died in previous years, all presumably close buddies of Bill. The point of the list was expressed something like this: "Would you like to be the President's friend?"
Of course, not all of the names represented close associates of Clinton. The monograph hinted at unnatural causes for some of the deaths, but provided no verification. No mention of other prominent political figures -- even better friends of these folks -- was made. In fact, a similar hoax could make any number of politicians, innocent as they might be, suspect in the minds of the intellectually unsuspecting.
Analysis of such propaganda, as foolish as it is, still takes individual, trained thought. In The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling, John Gatto develops the idea that such democratic training has been steadily trashed since the 1700s, pushing democratic principle aside in the interest of an industrial economy and its needs.
The groups I saw riled up about the "Be a friend of Bill and die" scare had no real analysis to their reasoning, which went: "There's no way that many of his friends could have died naturally" -- which, of course, is exactly what did happen. These folks weren't conditioned to worry about truth, only about their dislike of Clinton and perhaps his personal behavior. As long as we believe what we're fed, emotional dependency on the "character" of our leaders will keep us blind.
This blindness is the political consequence of the legal abuse of Clinton's private life during his administration. Clouding revealing analysis with America's hypocritical stance on sexual issues has cleared the way for appointments like Ashcroft's. The man hasn't done anything wrong, after all, and presents himself as a God-fearing white man with morality exuding from his every pore. Of course, objections by women and blacks will pale in comparison. After all, Clinton the adulterer championed those groups.
Some of the founding fathers, adulterers themselves, wouldn't necessarily champion Clinton, Ashcroft, Republican or Democrat. What they would do is question just what the bigger crime is here: prejudicial views given power, slowing progress toward equal opportunity, or lying about oral sex?
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