Originally Published: December 29, 2000 6:15 p.m.
The next four years promise to be pleasantly different in Washington.
George W. Bush's appointments to his cabinet keep getting better. This past Friday, the president-elect appointed Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft as the next attorney general of the United States. Cynics and wags will say it's just finding a place for a loyal political worker. Ashcroft lost his Senate seat in November to Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan after Carnahan died in a plane crash.
Ashcroft's seat went to Carnahan's widow by gubernatorial appointment.
Other wags also will disparage the very reasons Ashcroft constitutes a good appointment.
Reason 1: Integrity. The word came up in Bush's introduction of Ashcroft, and Ashcroft used it again several times in his acceptance remarks. In fact, Ashcroft gave his word to Bush that he would enforce the nation's laws with integrity. Ashcroft is a frequent lay speaker in churches of his denomination – the Assemblies of God. He enjoys singing and playing gospel music and he and his wife started a Washington , D.C., congregation in their home.
He opposes most forms of abortion and favors the death penalty and the right of law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. Again, liberal journalists and popular culture sneer at anyone who opposes abortion, believes in gun rights and – horror of horrors – remains committed to the causes and people he has committed to – even if it starts to get uncomfortable.
True, Ashcroft replaces an attorney general who saw her primary duty as keeping her erring president and vice president out of the clink, so almost any appointment would represent an improvement.
One thing is clear. If Ashcroft and the other fine individuals Bush has appointed so far don't live up to their commitments, they have defined an even greater distance to fall than their predecessors – people who didn't like to commit to much of anything.
This nation can't help but profit from having a president and cabinet comprising people with strong religious convictions who aren't afraid to profess them, live up to them and stand the glare of public opinion on how well they do it.
It will be a vast improvement over an administration and cabinet that worshipped little other than personal appetites for pleasure and power.
If this administration doesn't make good on its commitments, it is handing its opponents a hefty club to beat it with by making those commitments so clearly.