Editor's note: In the current issue of The American Prospect, staff writer Nicholas Confessore explains just why opposition to John Ashcroft, now George W. Bush's attorney general, was so ineffective. National Review editor Rich Lowry attacked Confessore's article a few days after it was posted on the web. Here, Confessore responds.
Flip the political calendar back to 1997: Led by the Southern Baptist Convention, social conservatives targeted the Walt Disney Corporation with a nationwide boycott in response to, among other sins, condoning "Gay Day" at Walt Disney World, having relatively gay-friendly corporate policies, and producing the sitcom Ellen. Now, back to the present: Gay civil rights groups are pressuring sponsors of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's forthcoming TV show, which will be syndicated by Paramount and feature the same bigotry and Crossfire-style family counseling we've come to expect from the good doctor, a radio personality who, as it happens, has her degree in physiology, not psychology.
Back in April of 1998, several employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came before the Senate oversight committee to testify about a litany of supposed fraud and abuse at the agency. IRS officials, they charged, had pursued vendettas against outside individuals and corporations and fudged audits to help former co-workers who had moved to private industry. Many Republicans, especially antitax crusaders, denounced the IRS as just one more overbearing government agency in need of comeuppance--which they promptly delivered via the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, signed into law by President Clinton the summer after the hearings.