By turns whiny, shifty, obfuscatory, petulant, insulting and arrogant, Holder has become a fixture before congressional investigating committees, fending off one Obama scandal after another, while proclaiming that he — the nation’s top cop — doesn’t know anything about anything and highly resents any implication that he does.
Indeed, all the Obama scandals — the murderous gunrunning scheme called Fast and Furious, the secret monitoring of the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen (personally approved by Holder), even the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups for special scrutiny — find their nexus at the top of the Justice Department.
Numerous Republican congressmen have called for his resignation, and now some on the left have as well. Liberal Web site the Huffington Post finally lost it over the Rosen affair Friday, and listed some of his other sins in its call for his head: “Easy on banks, tough on peace activists . . . soft on mortgage settlement, sanctioned drones . . .”
So if everybody hates Eric, what’s holding him up? Normally, inconvenient officials are blithely given the heave-ho, and there’s still ample room under the Obama bus for another body or four. It’s also customary for cabinet officials to depart after the first term (see: Clinton, Hillary) as part of a general reshuffling. But not Holder.
The reason is simple: Holder is the id to the president’s massive ego, busily helping to bring about the president’s wish for the “fundamental transformation” of America from his post at Justice. Along with super-ego Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s chief consigliere and all-around Madame Defarge, he’s likely to be among the last to go.
Still, this month has been the worst on record for Obama and his henchmen, a veritable parade of villains trashing the First Amendment, taking the Fifth on live television and continuing to do their level best to make sure the truth about the Benghazi catastrophe never comes out.
Foremost among them were the IRS’s Lois Lerner, the Vito Genovese of tax collectors (now enjoying a taxpayer-funded “administrative leave”), proclaiming her innocence in the government’s scheme to harass and punish conservatives and then clamming up like a cheap hood and hiding behind the Constitution; and Jay Carney, the hapless press secretary-turned-punching bag, sheltering in place behind the podium as his former colleagues in the media — furious that their profession has landed on the enemies list — beat up on him.
But they were pikers next to the master, Holder, who suddenly turned vicious against California Congressman Darrell Issa in testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
“It is inappropriate and it is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress,” snapped Holder at Issa, who spearheaded Holder’s contempt of Congress citation over Fast and Furious last year. “It is unacceptable and it is shameful.”
(It wasn’t hard to imagine President Obama watching this with glee, cheering him on. Holder was saying the things he wanted to, but couldn’t.)
A onetime student radical at Columbia University — Obama’s alma mater — Holder ought to know from shameful. Back in the scandal-scarred Clinton administration, then-Deputy AG Holder was instrumental in facilitating a last-minute presidential pardon for the tax-evading fugitive crook and big Democratic donor Marc Rich.
Wrote liberal columnist Richard Cohen in the Washington Post after Obama picked Holder for AG: “Holder was involved, passively or not, in just the sort of inside-the-Beltway influence peddling that Barack Obama was elected to end . . . [he] could not say no to power.”
Nothing Holder’s done since that tawdry episode, with its whiff of bribery, dispels that judgment. The most frankly partisan AG since Nixon’s John Mitchell (who went to jail over Watergate), Holder clearly sees his post as primarily political, using the law to accomplish and enforce Obama’s policy agenda.
One prominent example: Holder has consistently blocked any attempts at voter ID laws, especially in states with large minority populations, while — at the behest of Democrats like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee — siccing the IRS on good-government groups like True the Vote (which is now suing the IRS) that seek to stop such fraud.
There’s plenty more. Whether he’s obstructing justice in the Fast and Furious matter — which won him his well-deserved contempt citation — refusing to say whether the government can assassinate American citizens at home without due process (he eventually, grudgingly answered “no”) or blatantly lying to Congress about the Rosen surveillance (“this is not something I’ve ever been involved in”), Holder — like Obama — is a master of talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Holder is also a friend, or at least a kindred spirit. Where Clinton’s appointment was a marriage of convenience, and other cabinet members political picks, Holder shares the president’s mind on issues and speaks as Obama himself would.
Holder is, in short, the perfect apparatchik. And so he survives, trading punches with pesky congressmen and absorbing blows meant for the boss. For Obama to fire him would be like firing himself — and we all know that’s the last thing the president wants to do.