Cultural Revolutions

Washington Politics

Teddy Kennedy, the famed moral exemplar, read his former senatorial colleague John Ashcroft the riot act during confirmation hearings.

Ashcroft was extreme; his constitutional understanding of gun control was "radical." The senatorial face grew flush—presumably with anger, since it was a bit early in the day for more potent stuff.

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware was likewise ticked. Why, this man—this Ashcroft—had given an interview to Southern Partisan, the very existence of which was offensive to "20 million African-Americans." He was assuming 20 million African-Americans so much as knew the interview existed—a questionable point, to say the least.

And there was Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. She wasn't going to vote for "someone . . . so far out of the mainstream that it divides the country"—the mainstream as defined, evidently, by Senator Boxer. On to New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Ashcroft was "one of the most outspoken anti-choice crusaders in the country."

Confirm the guy? You had to wonder, toward the end of the hearings, how Ashcroft's erstwhile Democratic colleagues had managed all these years not to rend him limb from limb.

Of course, when you've watched Washington politics a while, you know what is going on. "Talking for Buncombe" has been a local habit, at least since...

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