September 30, 2003

SPINSANITY says that ad hominem attacks on Ashcroft are unfair, but widespread among Democrats.

I don’t think that ad hominem attacks on Ashcroft are inherently unfair: when you have an executive official of power and discretion, questions of character matter. (Ad hominem arguments may be logically invalid, but that’s a different topic.) The real problem with the attacks on Ashcroft — whom I don’t especially like myself, to be honest — is that they’re absurdly over the top. He’s not Torquemada, pace Walter Cronkite. He’s not even Janet Reno, whose record on civil liberties was dreadful but who got a pass because she was a woman appointed by a Democrat.

In fact, what’s interesting is that Democrats can — and Clinton did — get away with far worse civil liberties assaults, while Republicans can (and Bush is) get away with spending far more money, because the pigeonholes used by the press include “Republicans who hate civil liberties” and “Democrats who are wasteful spenders,” but not the reverse.