There is this idea that when you are working, you are the work. That you can leave your personal views behind. This notion of man and job being separate is undoubtedly playing now at a congressional hearing near you. Does he hate this group or that group more? Does he hate your mother? I hate your mother. Other questions—did he really give Bob Jones a hand job in the back seat of a V-8, American style? Mr. A, when did these symptoms begin? Does he dream of wrestling snakes, law-breaking snakes? We have to kill as many snakes as possible. We have to set an example.
While focusing on whether he could or would be confirmed, the media ignored the more interesting question of why John Ashcroft would want to be attorney general anyway. It seems like the attorney general should be in love or at least have a big crush on the law itself, to have and uphold. He should not be of the mind that fanatically pushing one view or another is cool, while philosophical detachment is not. In other words, he should probably not be a U.S. Senator. Perhaps no senator should ever be attorney general. Perhaps all senators should serve two terms and then be immediately jettisoned into space. Now you’ll tell me half our attorney generals have been senators—damned good ones! I have no response to that, except that I hate you. 2
Think of it in terms of rational versus irrational thought. I once knew this scientist who was so rational in his work it was maddening. Day after day, from one experiment to the next, I saw not a single irrational move. Yet this same person went home at night and used a special machine to create an even more special electric field under which he slept. This protected him from getting colds. He insisted. Because both rational and irrational thought coexist in all people, it is certainly possible for John Ashcroft to perform rationally as attorney general. Possible but not likely, that is, unless he was just kidding when he played Jim Crowe on my knee, with a fully black paddy wagon throw away the key. Like Eminem, he was merely trying to generate healthy discussion. Look, if I were against masturbation, and my job made me do things to protect those who gave glory to it, I would look for another job. Unless, of course, it paid a hell of a lot, in which case, I would look for the Vaseline.
I am a Republican, so whenever I can’t decide whether to put jam or cinnamon on my hot-buttered toast, I think “What would John Ashcroft do?” Not John Ashcroft, civil rights advocate gourmet, but John Ashcroft, attorney general gourmet. Because I know he would make that choice with integrity. He would never let personal preference enter into such a serious decision. That’s the kind of man I want for breakfast. Oh nix the toast, I’ll just have a scotch. I’m a Republican, you know. I can do that.
I am a Democrat, so I think we should put a tax on both butter and jam. Then we can use it to start a program to help people with their toast problem. It’s an outrage that ninety-five percent of the toast in America is concentrated in five percent of the toasters. I want to know, “Where are those toasters and what is John Ashcroft going to do about it?” Oh, forget it. [finger on intercom button] Ms. Stevens, could you please hold all my calls? [wondering aloud] Now where’s that blow job I ordered?
1 "I, as I write this, am only a certainty that seeks out the words that are most apt to compel your attention. That proposition and a few muscular sensations, and the sight of the limpid branches that the trees place outside my window, constitute my current I." - Jorge Luis Borges (1922) 11 Beck was a limpid branch outside my window in the nineties. In the nineties, it was actually cool to pay artists for their work. When you paid, you owned a little piece of them—a finger, a toe. It's all good.2 Actually, I can imagine a scenario in which Ashcroft engages in some textbook splitting whereby he enforces progressive legislation by day, and then goes home at night and writes anti-semitic poetry under the pen name of Jon Jon. Sample test question on the Ashcroft State SAT: True or False, what do John Ashcroft, Jack Torrence and Delbert Grady all have in common? Hint: it's not that their head is shaped like a gum drop.