Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

At least they’ll finally have to shut up about him

You won’t have ol’ John to kick around any more, but in perusing the story yesterday I noticed something right off:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, a lightning rod of criticism by civil liberties groups for his anti-terror policies after the Sept. 11 attacks and who once even ordered the robing of two partially nude statues in his department, resigned on Tuesday.

And so yet more liberal bushwa, through endless repetition, becomes accepted as eternal truth. Ashcroft never ordered any such thing:

The statue is one of two that stand at the end of the Great Hall in the Justice Department, which is commonly used for news conferences and announcements. One of statues is known as “The Majesty of Justice” and is a male figure. The other is called “The Spirit of Justice” and is the female figure. They are both art-deco pieces cast in aluminum. The female figure is dressed in a toga, leaving one breast exposed.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has not issued any official statement that we know of about the statue issue. The story was broken by Beverly Lumpkin of ABC News who said Ashcroft had made the request for the draperies. The Justice department has said that the draperies were an aesthetic decision that allowed the room to be changed for various functions and that the blue draperies looked good on camera.

Critics say the drapery is a reflection of Ashcroft’s conservative Christian view of things and that covering the breast seems to be an odd priority compared with other important issues for the Justice department to pay attention to.

Supporters say Ashcroft has no problem with the art or the exposed breast but has gotten tired of photographers strategically positioning themselves to snap pictures of Ashcroft or other officials framed with the breast. They say it is the photographers who have caused the breast to be an issue, not Ashcroft.

The same issue came up in 1968 when then Attorney General Edwin Meese presented his commission’s REPORT ON PORNOGRAPHY to reporters in The Great Hall. Several of the photographers took pains to get pictures of Meese holding up the report with “The Spirit of Justice” and her exposed breast prominently displayed in the background.

In other words, just like a pack of manipulative, whiny children, the MSM did something completely juvenile to create an issue that never needed to be one in the first place (I’m pretty sure that Ashcroft, like most adults, is not all that terribly bothered by the statues — I mean, come on, guys, get real, ferchrissake), and now Ashcroft will be known forever as the guy who was so prudish and God-bothering he couldn’t even tolerate marble tits. And thus the liberal propagandists win another victory over truth.

Via Bill, Jay Nordlinger fleshed the story out a bit more a while back:

Because these statues are partially nude, they are noticed only during conservative Republican administrations. Minnie Lou (nickname for the female statue – ed) and her one exposed breast became famous when photographers gleefully took their picture with Ed Meese, as he announced President Reagan’s report on pornography back in the mid 1980s. The presence of the Breast was thought to have “stepped on” the administration’s “message.” Washington liberals are still yukking about that one today.

The Breast was pretty quiet during the eight years of Janet Reno. As one peeved administration official puts it, “No cameraman was ever at Reno’s feet, trying to get a shot of her with that thing.” But Minnie Lou’s outstanding feature stormed back with Ashcroft. When President Bush visited the Justice Department to rededicate the building to Robert Kennedy, his advance men insisted on a nice blue backdrop: “TV blue,” infinitely preferable to the usual dingy background of the Great Hall. Everyone thought the backdrop worked nicely — made for “good visuals,” as they say. This was Deaverism, pure and simple. Ashcroft’s people intended to keep using it.

An advance woman on his team had the bright idea of buying the backdrop: It would be cheaper than renting it repeatedly. So she did — without Ashcroft’s knowledge, without his permission, without his caring, everyone in the department insists.

But ABC put out the story that Ashcroft, the old prude, had wanted the Breast covered up, so much did it offend his churchly sensibilities. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, ever clever, wrote that Ashcroft had forced a “blue burka” on Minnie Lou. Comedians had a field day (and are still having it). The Washington Post has devoted great space to the story, letting Cher, for example, tee off on it — as she went on to do on David Letterman’s show.

And yet the story is complete and total bunk. First, Ashcroft had nothing to do with the purchase of the backdrop. Second, the backdrop had nothing to do with Breast aversion. But the story was just “too good to check,” as we say, and it will probably live forever. Generations from now, if we’re reading about John Ashcroft, we will read that he was the boob who draped the Boob. The story is ineffaceable.

Yep, ’tis. Just another liberal weed that took root, that’s all. And here’s a funny little addendum for you: in the course of debunking a different fable, Snopes cites this Andrew Tobias article as the first time the liberal smear positing Ashcroft’s supposed belief that calico cats were a sign of the devil had ever appeared. Well, Tobias seems to have been casting his net a bit wider than that, as propagandists do tend to; in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that Tobias was just flinging it in all directions and hoping something, anything, would stick:

Shortly after becoming Attorney General, John Ashcroft was headed abroad. An advance team showed up at the American embassy in the Hague to check out the digs, saw cats in residence, and got nervous. They were worried there might be a calico cat. No, they were told, no calicos. Visible relief. Their boss, they explained, believes calico cats are signs of the devil. (The advance team also spied a statue of a naked woman in the courtyard and discussed the possibility of its being covered for the visit, though that request was not ultimately made.)

Bold mine. Snopes goes on to note that:

As unusual as this passage may sound, note that the parenthetical comment was written a full two months before ABC News reported that Attorney General Ashcroft had ordered the Spirit of Justice and Majesty of Law statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice be covered because he didn’t like being photographed in front of them.

And voila; just like that, a meme is born.

Not that they’re biased or anything, of course. Hey, they’re just reporting the news here! And if there’s no news to report, why, they’ll just make some up for us!

I don’t know what we’d ever do without them, but I sure am beginning to wish we could find out.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

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