The New York Times article on Attorney General John Ashcroft's resignation describes him, rather hyperbolically in my view, as "one of the most powerful and divisive figures ever to serve as the nation's top law enforcement official." That's a particularly weird statement when one considers that compared to his immediate predecessor, Janet Reno, Ashcroft was downright obscure.
The article goes to great lengths to persuade us that Ashcroft held bizarre, "extremist" beliefs that made him naturally controversial, in the paper's rather sad attempt to distract readers from the fact that the controversies to which the New York Times alludes were largely a creation of that newspaper and its political allies, who disagreed strongly with the entire thrust of his policies. In fact, the present NYT "analysis" inadvertently proves the point, as I demonstrate in today's issue of The Daily Standard (the online edition of The Weekly Standard), here.
To the extent that Ashcroft had a "tumultuous tenure," as the caption of the photo accompanying the article puts it, the tumult was very much a creation of the New York Times itself and the rest of the radical Left (aided by a good many on the radical Right). The fact is, the New York Times and the rest of the far Left despised Ashcroft for his openly religious views on politics. It is a pity that these partisans seem unable to admit or even recognize that little bit of extremism on their own part.
A little honesty in this regard and similar situations would go a long way toward restoring the credibility of the New York Times. That, however, seems far too much to hope for.