Democrats will fail if they portray William Barr as controversial pick

Vilifying William Barr, the nominee for attorney general, as they have done with every appointee of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE, will only backfire on Democrats.

In November 1991, a Senate with 57 Democrats in the majority confirmed Barr as attorney general of the United States on a voice vote, meaning there were no objections. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Biden even praised the candidness shown by Barr as “a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you.”

But now Donald Trump is president, meaning that left wing Democrats will likely try to portray the attorney general under George H.W. Bush as a controversial figure in order appease their “resistance” base. That strategy ultimately failed when Democrats were trying to derail the confirmation of Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Gorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Alyssa Milano says she could 'potentially run' for House in 2024 MORE to the Supreme Court. It certainly will not work now.


Even Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy House narrowly approves .9B Capitol security bill after 'squad' drama MORE, now the longest serving Democrat in the Senate, voted to confirm Barr 27 years ago. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema 'If this thing qualifies, I'm toast': An oral history of the Gray Davis recall in California The big myths about recall elections MORE, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, served during much of his tenure. Perhaps fearing a repeat of the Kavanaugh fiasco, both have refused to help get the ball rolling on an attempt to block Barr. Feinstein refused to condemn Barr when CNN came calling. Leahy went further, telling the Washington Examiner that Barr is someone he respects and who could “have majority support from Republicans and Democrats.”

The reason experienced Democrats in Congress are so reluctant to get the outrage machine up and running is that Barr enjoys a reputation as a consummate attorney and a widely respected public servant. He earned two degrees from Columbia University before graduating from George Washington University Law School with highest honors. Barr served with distinction in the public and private sectors for more than 40 years.

Barr began his career in the intelligence community. As an attorney, he made a name for himself as an adviser to Ronald Reagan and then worked for an eminent Washington law firm before President Bush asked him to return to public service in 1989. In an administration packed with talent, Barr so distinguished himself as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, one of the most notoriously nuanced and difficult positions at the Justice Department, that President Bush nominated him as deputy attorney general, then soon after as attorney general of the United States.

This decision by President Bush to replace an appointee of President Reagan with one of the youngest attorneys general in the modern era, along with the Senate decision to confirm him on a voice vote, speaks volumes. As the nation laid President Bush to rest earlier this month, we were reminded of a bygone era in American politics, when competence and character in civil servants were the first priority of both parties. Barr had bipartisan support in that era because he embodies those qualities.

The esteem in which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle held Barr was validated by his successful tenure at the Justice Department. It was under his watch that the nation finally turned the corner on the nightmare of violent crime that plagued our cities in the 1970s and 1980s. It was his leadership that oversaw implementation of two cornerstone laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

In the absence of any substantive objection to his solid record, liberal commentators have seized upon his views of executive power in an effort to tarnish his reputation. His views, however, are indeed mainstream and uncontroversial. His legal opinions from his tenure as attorney general were never repudiated by any subsequent administration. Democrats and “resistance” pundits have proven they are willing to turn any nomination by President Trump into a partisan circus. If they try it with Barr, it will not work and their own history of praise for him will come back to haunt them.

Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and commentator who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was an inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio. She is on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.