As a fearful nation bids farewell to outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft, there’s a certain part of his legacy I’ll always remember fondly. No, it’s not the fact that thanks to the Patriot Act, my wife the librarian could theoretically be sent to federal prison for telling her boss what happened, if one day federal agents were to seize every computer in the library as “evidence.” It’s not the expanded freedom to wiretap enjoyed by every law enforcement officer in this great nation of ours. It’s not the way he and his administration have embraced wholeheartedly the idea of extended imprisonment without charges.
It’s not even the way, according to a dryly hilarious report by the Guardian, “Each time he has been sworn in to political office, he is anointed with cooking oil (in the manner of King David, as he points out in his memoirs, ‘Lessons from a Father to His Son’).” (Did everybody else know about that story but me? I’d long considered myself an avid follower of Ashcroft’s fucked-up Pentecostal behavior, but man, if I didn’t know this …)
No, friends, what I’ll remember about the guy neocon moron commentators insist on referring to as “General Ashcroft” (I believe he was in the same branch of the military as Cap’n Crunch) is one simple, heartfelt song. (My favorite line from the afore-linked Guardian story is the one that describes Ashcroft as “a grittily determined singer.”)
Like any reasonable American, my faith in the mainstream media is at an all-time low these days. Thank heavens for Jon Stewart, who on last night’s “Daily Show” brought back this world-obliterating footage for one hurrah. And to give credit where credit’s due, I regained a little bit of faith in CNN when I discovered they’ve given the “Ashcroft Sings!” footage its very own dedicated page. Maybe the press isn’t dead; maybe it’s just sleeping.