Opinion: Holder resignation news welcome, the sooner the better


When NPR announced the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., I must admit it was a begrudgingly welcome announcement. While he had a good run on civil rights cases, like when he refused to enforce the DOMA Act, and sued states trying to put discriminatory voting laws in place, he doesn’t have a good record on much else. While promising not to prosecute journalists in leak investigations, he had a reporter investigated as a co-conspirator, and had Associated Press’ phone records seized. Not to mention that leak investigation is a poor euphemism for a witch hunt on whistle blowers. A hunt that according to Holder in Senate hearing abut the NSA’s activities, as cited by Tech Dirt in April of this year, is constitutional.

Extremely unpopular but constitutional.

With the end of the Bush administration, the public was not happy with top heavy government crackdowns, especially with the Abu Ghrahib prison scandal. With the revelation that NSA was spying on us and President Obama wanted to hunt down the whistle blower Eric Snowden for treason, little is left in the trust department.

When it comes to Holder’s problems, the biggest cited is his handling of the Fast and the Furious case. While trying to track down gun smuggling rings, due to a lack of oversight, the U.S. Government essentially armed Mexican drug cartels. He was found to be in contempt of Congress (one of the only things Congress got done recently) for his refusal to hand over the Department of Justice’s files on the case. The big aggravation in that case as the LA Times showed was that guns that were sold by the feds in the failed gun walking sting led to the death of a U.S. border patrol agent.

All of these things add up to a very unhappy picture. It would be too easy to say that with his good deeds and bad ones they wash out but the head prosecutor of the U.S. government batting for 500 is not a good record. A prominent public official should not be wrong half the time. Especially when it leads to the death of others.

With our do-nothing congress, it would be easy to pin the blame on them as everyone else in the country went to work and worked. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to toot his horn about being right about Holder, but he is doing so while driving around in circles. The Washington Post and ABC News conjointly held a poll in August about how the public felt about Congress and both parties in it. 51 percent to 41 percent had a negative view of the Legislative branch. While Democrats held 49 percent to 46 percent edge in favorability, Republicans didn’t fare as well in the poll. Their favorable to unfavorable rating was 35 percent to 60 percent.

So while the government has had no help from either House or Congress, the ire Holder draws is not only from his actions, it is also from his inaction. He stood pat on the forces of Wall Street that plunged the country into a recession for the last decade, and he didn’t go after the IRS for targeting conservative action groups. Whatever your political alignment, everyone could get behind the DOJ holding the IRS’ feet to the fire.

Perhaps the most upsetting part of his resignation is that he is staying until a replacement can be nominated. In a true sign of how bad the current congress is, the Washington Post is already predicting that the nomination process for his successor is going to be very ugly. I can see the fight to get a replacement nominated taking so long that it will be close to electing President Obama’s successor. An incredibly unpopular attorney general lasts because an extremely unpopular congress won’t let him leave, even when they don’t want him.

He has flip-flopped on going after corrupt financial institutions, the Huffington Post cited last year in a Senate hearing that some banks are too big to prosecute. Recently in his weekly video message he declared that no bank is too big to go to jail. The wait has left many puzzled as the forces that caused the recession and financial turmoil of the last decade go unpunished. According to Rolling Stone, the inaction is the current state of prosecuting white collar crime. Unless there is a slam dunk case already built against the defendant than no one is willing to take a swing at potentially unsuccessful prosecutions. So while people get kicked out of their homes, the bankers count their money because the supposed good guys are scared.

Perhaps what irks me the most about Holder is how his record on reducing hard sentences for non-violent drug related offenses is touted as one of his achievements. It’s touted as one of his achievements while federal prosecutors have tried and convicted people for growing marijuana in states where it was made legal. In a CNN story, federal prosecutors put a 70-year-old man behind bars for 10 years for growing his own marijuana which he uses to treat his physical pain he has endured from a lifetime of hard labor.

Holder’s good and bad don’t equal out to a wash and not all of the blame can be put on a erroneous government. We should seek better from our officials when their main profession is justice.