John Ashcroft Makes Justice Department Lawyers Sing Along  
By Glenn Weiser
Metroland, August 22, 2002

They're still singing at the JD as far as I know. - GW

Every morning lately at the Justice Department, John Ashcroft, the archconservative Attorney General, has been gathering his staff and requiring them to begin the day by singing patriotic songs he has penned himself. But instead of ditties like his “The Eagle Soars,” many of his employees wish he would sing, as the old joke goes, far, far away.

(John Achcroft, second from left, with the Singing Senators)

The nation’s top lawyer has long accompanied his baritone pipes on piano, and also harmonizes with Trent Lott, Larry Craig, and James Jeffords in The Singing Senators, the Congressional barbershop quartet. He has even made tapes of his originals, including a 1995 release modestly entitled Gospel (Music) According to John (a sample can be heard on the Web here:, and is known to burst into song at the drop of a hat

The staunchly fundamentalist Ashcroft had already been holding morning prayer meetings at Justice, but has now found a new venue - and a captive audience- there for his musical ambitions. Staffers arriving for work are receiving printouts with the lyrics to his songs so they can take part in the daily singalongs. And lest no one be left out, Spanish speakers have even been pressed into service to translate the words.

Ashcroft’s latest effort, the country-flavored “The Eagle Soars,” starts out like this:

"Oh she's far to young to die
             You can see it in her eye
             She's not yet begun to fly".

Sour notes are being heard in the choir, though. One worker, when asked by the BBC why she wasn’t thrilled about singing “The Eagle Soars,” put it bluntly. “Have you heard the song? It really sucks.” And some employees hate it so much they won’t sing it at all.

It turns out Ashcroft has a long history of treating, or subjecting his employees to his music, depending on their appetite for corn. When he was Missouri's attorney general, he gave out copies of an earlier tape, In the Spirit of Life and Liberty, to his staff. (a cut from this, Keep the Bells of Freedom Ringing, can be heard on the NPR website).

For the unwilling musical conscripts at the Justice Department, the grousing over “The Eagle Soars ” and Ashcroft’s other originals isn’t likely to end soon.

List of Metroland Stories by Glenn Weiser                          ©2002 by Glenn Weiser. All rights reserved.


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