Remember Prince Hal
The change in demeanor of president-elect George W. Bush as he
introduced attorney general-designate John Ashcroft to, and responded
to questions by the press was remarkable indeed. In less than ten
days, the transformation from uncertain winner to man-in-charge
was evident for all to see. He said what he intended to say, and
the messages addressed to all present were crystal clear.
Students of history might contemplate the life of Henry, Prince
of Wales, son of King Henry IV, affectionately known as Hal - one
of Shakespeare's favorite characters.
In his early years, Prince Hal got into some questionable company
and engaged in activities best forgotten, much of it connected to
the excessive enjoyment of intoxicating beverages.
When suddenly, upon the death of his father, he became King Henry
V, many who had known him during his years of abandon thought little
of the event. They presumed only that they would now have an old
crony on the throne. "King Hal, my royal Hal!" exclaims
Sir John Falstaff, expecting to encounter the same person who had
spent countless rowdy nights in the tavern he calls home.
The young king's stunning answer to Falstaff is commended to the
attention of friend and foe: "Presume not that I am the thing
Henry V, too, was underestimated by his adversaries. In response
to English territorial claims, the Dauphin of France sent him tennis
balls, accompanied by sarcastic reminders of Henry's youth. The
message carried to the king by the French ambassadors was tantamount
to a declaration of war.
NAACP Chairman Kweisi Mfume's statement in response to John Ashcroft's
nomination for attorney general, as well, is tantamount to a declaration
of war. Mr. Mfume is entirely too knowledgeable and experienced
to believe that the objections to Mr. Ashcroft as articulated in
his statement are bona fide. Born Frizzell Gray in Baltimore, this
country provided him with an excellent education before he changed
Frizzell Gray to Kweisi Mfume, which in Swahili means "conquering
son of kings." Thus the parallel with the dauphin of France
But there that particular parallel ends. President George W. Bush
is unlikely to mount a campaign against the NAACP, and it will not
be one decisive battle, such as King Henry's at Agincourt, that
deflates the derision and bombast of his adversaries. Instead, it
will be the gradual recognition that he is "not the thing he
Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats and the media both (are they
in fact a single entity?) operate under the delusion that they can
dictate policy because of the narrow margins in the last elections.
They obviously are unclear as to what we call a candidate who has
received a majority of only four electoral votes.
We call him Mr. President.
And, according to Article II of the U.S. Constitution - you know,
the document Congressional Democrats suddenly remember every time
it promises to support their agenda - all executive power is vested
in a single person we call Mr. President.
While there is much talk about the softening economy and about
the Middle East, the mettle of the new president will probably experience
its first real test during the confirmation hearings of John Ashcroft.
Not because anyone has the slightest doubt he would do an excellent
job at Justice, but precisely because many fear he would do an excellent
job at Justice. And, significantly, because it will be the earliest
opportunity to cripple the new president for the duration. Reagan
was close to the end of his tenure when Judge Bork was Borked, and
George H. Bush had the success of Desert Storm behind him when Clarence
Thomas was Hilled. If Ashcroft can be Ashed right at the beginning...well,
you draw the conclusion.
Just now, friend and foe look upon the choice of Ashcroft as a
gesture to please Conservatives in general, and the religious in
particular. Without the slightest claim to knowing the president-elect's
mind, I would propose a different interpretation.
From Day One, the Clintons took aim at the Justice Department.
The summary, unprecedented dismissal of all U.S. attorneys was followed
by placing into high positions those with undisguised contempt or
outright hostility toward America and Americans. Appointments such
as Bill Lann Lee, Norma V. Cantú, Isabelle Katz Pinzler illustrate
the point. The Clintons then supplemented these operatives - who
fit our concept of commissar far more accurately than that of "servant
of the People" - with similar appointments in so-called Civil
Rights divisions of other departments, such as Education.
On the European continent, departments of the Interior are responsible
for the internal order. The country's police force comes under their
purview and, hand-in-hand with extensive administrative prerogative,
the Ministry of the Interior wields enormous power. Among other
things, it regulates and monitors people's movements by requiring
the reporting of addresses and address changes within a tight deadline.
It is also the central authority for regulating behavior.
Significantly, the United States of America was not to have a comparable
institution. Nonetheless, a network operating as a de facto Ministry
of the Interior has come into being. It usurps the original legitimacy
of the Civil Rights movement, exploits the ideological opposition
of the 1960's generation to the military, to business and industry,
and thrives on the breakdown of ethics in the legal profession.
The Department of Justice is its hub.
George W. Bush is unlikely to have contemplated all details of
the foregoing discussion. But his instincts prompted him to select
an attorney general who is most likely to restore Justice to its
constitutional role, so that the Constitution will once again be
a set of laws, and it is We the People who are living-breathing
May he also have the determination and strength King Henry V mustered
at Agincourt, for the vast armies of the French defeated on that
day will pale when measured against the awesome forces marshaled
against our new president as the United States Senate takes up John