Arthur Christopher Schaper
Attorney General Eric Holder has resigned.
With the longest tenure as the chief law enforcement officer during any Presidential administration (six years), Holder entered on a controversial record, sparking concerns from law and order types as well as constitutional conservatives, and just about anyone else who would expect the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of men, from the Attorney General’s office.
An aggressive activist in race relations during his youth, Holder joined the Columbia University take-over of an empty ROTC office. He has prided himself on this activism to this day. As a deputy attorney general during the Clinton Administration, Holder argued that liberals needed to subvert the media and the minds of Americans to support gun-control. Not just once a week, Holder argued, but every day, until Americans were “brainwashed” to think about guns a different way. Other blights on Holder’s record pre-confirmation included involvement in a last-minute Presidential pardon during the Clinton administration for billionaire oil magnate Mark Rich. His crime? Billion-dollar tax evasion. Did Rich’s campaign contributions to Bill and Hillary expedite this pardon?
As Attorney General, Holder got caught up in the “felony-stupid” (per House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa) gun-running Operation Fast and Furious, leading calls for Holder’s resignation. Held in contempt by the House, Holder demurred. He refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. His office ignored the Constitution by seizing AP reporters’ phone records, then refused the media’s Public Records Act requests. Despite the expanding IRS scandals, in which auditors were stalling, interrogating, and intimidating non-profit groups and threatening their tax-exemption status, Holder did nothing.
He sued little cities and big states for perceived civil rights violations, despite the unending violations of the rule of law from the Obama Administration. With a disturbing record of non-enforcement and lax prosecution from US Attorneys against gun violence, Holder seemed intent on enabling gun violence rather than stopping it. The American People and a majority of US Senators (including vulnerable red state Democrats) have resisted gun control expansions, enough that Democratic Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy is the underdog in his reelection bid, in growing part to his draconian gun control laws.
Holder’s departure comes not soon enough.
But who's next?
With Holder gone, politicos are asking: “Who's next?” Ideal nods would include California Attorney General Kamala Harris (like Holder, she discriminates which cases based on liberal as opposed to legal considerations). Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is leaving office next year, would also fulfill the progressive check-list of qualifications: liberal, minority (African-American), prior executive experience, particularly in overlooking Constitutional mandates and the rule of law.
Two other names have floated among DC operatives: Democratic US Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
McCaskill’s record as a prosecutor pushed legislation (with bipartisan support) to expedite the trial and conviction of sexual assaults in the US military, and limit military discretion on dismissing these crimes. Could she end the “legitimate rape” of the legal system?
Whitehouse also has a record as prosecutor, specifically as a US Attorney then Attorney General of Rhode Island. Judging by the current record of incompetence or ignorance from the Rhode Island Attorney General office (where was Kilmartin when the FBI raided Speaker Fox’s office, home and the Providence statehouse?), Whitehouse may have to run from as well as on his record, much like Holder.
Following his US Attorney tenure, Whitehouse denounced Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez for politicizing his office and engaging in crony conservatism, firing select US Attorneys who opposed the NSA warrantless wiretapping of US citizens. This hypocritical double-standard could hurt his chances further, since Whitehouse supported Holder’s nomination, and has white-washed with deliberate neglect the rampant allegations of corruption enabled (or fostered) by retiring Attorney General Holder.
A benign Senator
On the other hand, Senator Whitehouse has been a relatively benign senator, voting the party line, and preaching about climate change, but with nothing to show for it. Sixty-plus speeches on differing weather patterns (against the rising consensus among scientists which shrug off the seriousness of climate change), and Whitehouse has exhausted his advocacy on the matter.
As Attorney General, Whitehouse could transform the chief law enforcement officer’s podium into a bully pulpit against the greatest threat against humanity: mot terrorism, nor unchecked criminality, not even racism, but . . .climate change. Imagine Attorney General Whitehouse serving the sun and the ozone layers a subpoena: Stop shining on us, or else! Joshua told the sun and moon to stop in their orbits, and they obeyed. Do you think the sun would respond to a legal summons? From Whitehouse?
On the political side, Whitehouse’s nomination as Attorney General would force red state Democrats (and vulnerable incumbents in 2016) to buck their party or hurt their future reelection chances. If he did get confirmed, another open US Senate seat could incite a special election primary fight between Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, with meager opportunities for Republican hopefuls to win a Congressional seat (or Senate seat) in Rhode Island.
Either way, Holder’s resignation (and a possible Whitehouse nomination) forecasts troubles ahead for the Obama Administration and Democratic chances this year.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.