U.S. News has cover story profile on John Ashcroft that reaches some pretty surprising conclusions.
For all of the controversy he manages to attract, John Ashcroft is one of the least understood men in Washington. Derided as a religious zealot by some, Ashcroft has never invoked religion in policy or procedural discussions, say colleagues, who add that they have never even seen him pray. Challenged during his confirmation hearings as insensitive to minorities, Ashcroft worships regularly at a mostly black church. An ardent opponent of abortion, Ashcroft is praised by pro-abortion-rights groups for prosecuting violence against abortion clinics. A longtime gun-control foe, Ashcroft has increased prosecutions of certain gun crimes nearly 70 percent over three years. “One of the things that’s frustrating about watching from the outside is he’s a very charming, intelligent guy,” says James Comey, who was confirmed as Ashcroft’s deputy a month ago and served as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan before that. “He’s shockingly smart, but most people wouldn’t think that. The guy is ferociously honest, but there are people who would not believe that. To some in the public, he is Darth Vader, but it’s unfair because he’s really not that way.”