Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Mr. Division checks out

Late this afternoon comes some rather welcome news: John Ashcroft has announced plans to resign as U.S. attorney general. Ashcroft is reportedly set to take his divisive world view and his purportedly melodious singing voice back to Missouri. Commerce Secretary Don Evans also announced his plans to step down, but Ashcroft is the day’s big trophy. The architect of the USA Patriot Act and enforcer of the extrajudicial imprisonments at Guantanamo Bay has been no friend of civil libertarians and generally reasonable people everywhere.

But in his rush to leave, Ashcroft takes credit for the end of a long twilight struggle most people would say we haven’t really even started yet. In his resignation letter, he notes that “[t]he objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.” Thanks, John, we can all relax now. The war on terorrism is history and you’ve refreshed your resume.

I’m glad you’re going, John. There’s the door. Don’t let the Constitution hit you in the ass on the way out.

You have to wonder who’s next. Powell? Condi? Thompson at HHS? Rumsfeld, our very own Dr. Strangelove? Much should be known in the coming days. The handicapping has already begun, of course, the better no doubt to have all the musical chairs accounted for by Jan. 20 of next year. So the administration (already being given the shorthand acronym of “W2″) hits the ground running.

You also have to wonder, though, if this early shuffle to the Cabinet is, just maybe, the first attempt on the part of the administration to tack more to the political center? Speaking shortly after John Kerry’s concession speech the morning of Nov. 3, President Bush made much of the idea of reaching out to the other side, offering an open hand, binding up wounds [insert your making-peace metaphor here]. It’s far too early to come to any conclusions about what may or may not even be overtures to “the loyal opposition.” There’s no getting away, however, from the hardliners like The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley, who insists, with his customary pitbull ideological zeal, that since the Republicans won and won handily, they don’t have to offer an olive branch to anyone on the other side. Fat Tony. What a guy.

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