Dubya’s really a divider

Tim Paluch

The praise has begun. President-elect Dubya has begun his quest to be a “uniter” not a “divider.” Dubya’s cabinet nominees are being hailed as just as diverse as President Clinton’s, perhaps moreso. This, despite the praise from partisan pundits, is entirely untrue. While the gender and races of Dubya’s cabinet members may be something other than white males, ideologically and philosophically it is far from diverse. By selecting pro-business and anti-abortion leftovers from Daddy’s administration, Dubya has proven again that he is just as dumbheaded as Dan Quayle, only not as experienced. Scared? You should be. Dubya’s cabinet nominees are a lot like the menu at McDonald’s. That double quarter-pounder with cheese looks pretty sweet in the picture, but open that wrapper and you get the actual product: a grease-filled bun with two undercooked non-beef patties with half a slice of cheese stuck in between. Things are not as they appear in Dubya’s cabinet, with nothing more than far-right conservatives trapped in the bodies of women and minorities.The liberal wing of the Democratic party should not take these appointees sitting down. There are some major flaws with some of Dubya’s cabinet selections, and Democrats should not stay seated out of fear of looking partisan. The hot word around Washington these days is “bipartisanship,” and the Republicans are abusing the word. Any argument over a Dubya appointee will likely be called partisan, so it appears the Republicans have the Democrats right where they want them.While it is highly unlikely many will be challenged by Democrats, there are a few that should be looked at very closely, especially among Democrats with liberal constituents. The first, and the one most likely to be challenged, is Dubya’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Ashcroft, the former senator from Missouri who lost his reelection bid to the late Mel Carnahan, was called “honorable” for not campaigning after his Carnahan’s death. Now we know why he stopped. Ashcroft is a man with a shady civil and human rights past as senator and governor of Missouri. He gained criticism when, as a senator, he rejected African American Ronnie White’s bid for a federal judicial spot. Ashcroft belittled him, referring to him as being “soft on crime” and “pro-criminal.” In reality it appears it was White’s pro-choice stance that killed him with Ashcroft.White, a political moderate whose judicial record was not that different from judges Ashcroft had appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court while governor, battled over the abortion issue with the extremely anti-choice Ashcroft while serving as a state legislator in the early ’90s. And oh yeah, as a judge, White wrote the sole dissenting opinion in death penalty cases only three times out of 60. That’s soft on crime? Ashcroft isn’t one that should be complaining about underqualified judicial appointees. In 1985, then-Governor Ashcroft appointed his young chief of staff to the Missouri Supreme Court. The number of days he had served as a judge prior to the appointment? Zero.Ashcroft is the epitome of an old-school conservative. A man who received an honorary degree from Bob Jones University, which has called Catholicism a cult, Ashcroft advanced his career and his extreme anti-abortion agenda by denying a federal judicial nominee confirmation by distorting his record.Ashcroft is a scary Attorney General to liberals and moderates. He has strong views against affirmative action and is extremely anti-choice, supporting the “Human Life Amendment,” which prohibits abortion even under cases of rape, incest and endangerment of mother.Ashcroft opposed coverage of contraceptives in federal health plans, repeatedly voted against providing resources to enforce clean air and water laws, recorded radio ads supporting permitting Missourians to carry concealed weapons and voted against the assault weapons ban.The question is, will Ashcroft, as the highest law enforcement position in the land, enforce laws he has publicly disagreed with? Democrats shouldn’t gamble and wait to find out.A second questionable nominee is Dubya’s Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton. Environmentalists should be worried, as Norton’s pro-property rights sympathies could mean public lands may be sold to the highest bidder. In her home state of Colorado, Norton supported regulations that allowed corporations to evaluate their own compliance with environmental regulations.Norton is also highly in favor of Dubya’s campaign to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and led a battle to protect Amendment 2, the anti-gay rights referendum that was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.Next up is Linda Chavez, Dubya’s Secretary of Labor. Putting Chavez in charge of labor is like putting Robert Downey Jr. in charge of a pharmacy. Chavez is strictly pro-business, likened the federal minimum wage system to communism, and has referred to women harassed in the workplace as “crybabies.” Chavez leads the Center for Equal Opportunity, which advocates eliminating affirmative action and bilingual education, and has supported programs such as Exodus, which seeks to convert gays to straight life. Another minority, Chavez has the gift of a Hispanic last name, but isn’t greatly accepted by Hispanics and doesn’t even speak Spanish.Rounding out Dubya’s disciples are businessmen, buddies and old politicians from Daddy’s days. Democrats should not take this sitting down, purely because of fears of being labeled “partisan.” Campaigning as a “uniter,” Dubya has failed to show his difference from other politicians. By choosing hard-line conservatives with similar ideological views, Dubya has proven to be more divisive than the “uniter” he claims to be. Strictly conservative women and minorities are still strictly conservative. Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill.