About Alberto Gonzales, Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) said, "We will have to review his record very carefully, but I can tell you already he's a better candidate than John Ashcroft." As far as I can tell, most of the things that have worried people about Ashcroft are also true of Gonzales, as some others in the article I linked pointed out. The one difference is that Ashcroft is very strongly pro-life, and Gonzales isn't. So in Schumer's mind, someone's personal view about the morality of an issue, despite his insistence that he will enforce the law as it stands, is important enough to vote against him but not against someone who is virtually identical on all the serious issues Demopcrats raised at Ashcroft's
trial confirmation hearing, none of which involved anything significant in the end, as the dissenting votes by very liberal Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold showed. Most of the venom against Ashcroft lately has been about treatment of prisoners from the war on terror and the extent to which national security trumps what would otherwise be rights to privacy. Most of it is mentioned in the context of the Patriot Act, though most of the things said have little to do with that piece of legislation, which came from Congress and not Ashcroft anyway, though he supported it. As it turns out Gonzales is on the same page with Ashcroft on that, which means Schumer's lukewarm attitude (rather than the moral superiority he showed to Ashcroft) is entirely about abortion.
I suppose this shouldn't be too surprising from someone who uses the euphemism 'choice' to describe what he considers an absolute moral right to kill one's developing offspring. So in the end it turns out Schumer's willingness to oppose Ashcroft really came from the lowest of motivations. First it shows his desire not to trust a man to keep his word and enforce the law as it stands, when that man appears in every way to be morally upstanding, particularly when it comes to personal behavior such as truth-telling. Second, it caters to a deep-seated and irrational fear that someone might in any way limit such a violent procedure as abortion. I just can't imagine why someone could find it even remotely wrong to try to reduce the number of abortions in this country or to limit the procedure to less barbaric methods. I have to wonder if the senior senator from my state has a conscience. If he opposes Gonzales in the end, then perhaps I will soften my stance on his opposition to Ashcroft as only partially being from such low motives, but he really seems to be operating entirely from that at this point. Other senators who opposed Ashcroft and seem willing to approve Gonzales include Patrick Leahy from VT and Byron Dorgan from ND. Ted Kennedy opposes Gonzales.