Frank Rich today in the New York Times. He is at his usual best.
In this fierce propaganda battle over the war on terrorism, the administration has been battling longer and harder than Michael Moore. And in John Ashcroft it has an even bigger camera hog in the starring role — no mean feat. While his on-screen persona needs work — he tries to come off like Robert Stack in “The Untouchables” but more often conjures up W. C. Fields in “The Bank Dick” — the attorney general’s resources as a showman are considerable. He has a bigger budget than most filmmakers and can command far more free TV time for promoting his wares. His press conferences, whether to showcase his latest, implicitly single-handed victory in the war on terror or to predict the apocalypse he wants to make certain we won’t blame him for, are now as ubiquitous as spinoffs of “C.S.I.” and “Law & Order.” While F.D.R. once told Americans that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, Mr. Ashcroft is delighted to play the part of Fear Itself, an assignment in which he lets his imagination run riot.
Go read the rest. You won’t be disappointed.