Dispatches > The Buzz

Ups & Downs of the week

Issue: "China: Caesar’s seminary," Jan. 27, 2001

PRO-LIFE OPTIMISM: Last time pro-lifers marked the annual March for Life in the shadow of the inauguration of a new president, the year was 1993. Bill Clinton had received the oath of office and promptly issued a string of executive orders expanding abortion rights. Eight years later, pro-lifers marched as debate raged over a pro-life attorney general and news stories reported the incoming Bush-Cheney administration's signals that the Clinton abortion orders were in serious jeopardy. Likely new orders: reinstating the ban on abortions in military hospitals, the ban on federally funded fetal tissue research, and the ban on overseas promotion or performance of abortion with U.S. family-planning dollars. Bigger battles ahead: A legislative ban on partial-birth abortions, passed by large majorities in the House and Senate but repeatedly vetoed by Mr. Clinton, would receive President Bush's signature. But if the Chavez and Ashcroft nominations are any indication, pro-life judicial nominees face tough sledding in the evenly split Senate. ADVISE AND CONSENT STANDARDS: John Ashcroft did what he had to do at his confirmation hearings, but the Senate's shabby treatment of its former colleague sets a disturbing new tone. About the only thing hostile Democrats didn't demand of Mr. Ashcroft was that he renounce his faith in God. What a difference from 1993, when the Senate confirmed Janet Reno as attorney general 98-zip. Suffice it to say, the traditional deference given to cabinet appointments is shot. For those who wish to be confirmed, nomination hearings are not the place to go on the attack, but this abusive treatment will only get worse until someone stands up to the Senate bullies.

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