By the time this is published, I assume, John Ashcroft will be Attorney General of the United States, despite the most strenuous efforts to derail his nomination.
Ashcroft has been accused of racism, but anyone who pays close attention recognizes that this is a cover story for the real issue, which is abortion. As the new administration takes office, President Bush is told repeatedly that he can do just about anything he wants, provided he does not interfere with a “woman’s right to choose.”
Liberalism used to be defined by its commitment to the welfare state—government programs to eradicate social evils. But during the past twenty years most people have lost faith in such programs, and liberalism is now defined precisely by the “social issues.” Abortion is the chief of these, and any politician who supports abortion is forgiven a host of other failings.
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James Hitchcock is Professor emeritus of History at St. Louis University in St. Louis. He and his late wife Helen have four daughters. His most recent book is the two-volume work, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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