The right-wing obsession with Attorney General Eric Holder has risen to a fever pitch.
Over the weekend, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for a special prosecutor to look into the Justice department’s handling of the Associated Press leak investigation, implying that Attorney General Holder was improperly involved. Holder has also consistently been on the receiving end of calls for his resignation from the right and the left about everything from gun running to drone policy.
Republicans calling for Holder’s resignation seem to have a very short memory. The focus on attorney general Holder has been feverish since he was first tapped by President Obama in 2008 and when he dared to imply that Americans are cowards when it comes to confronting race. While many cheered Holder’s selection as the first black attorney general, many on the right saw him as a visible target and a valuable scalp to take in their quest to hobble the Obama presidency.
Holder hasn’t done anything legally wrong
There was month after month of breathless coverage in conservative media declaring the so-called Fast and Furious scandal Obama’s Watergate. After months of testimony and accusations, the investigation revealed that Holder had done nothing legally wrong. As the conservative furor leaked into mainstream media coverage, the resulting blemishes to Holder’s reputation seemed damaging as he simultaneously demanded action be taken to block voter suppression efforts in communities of color.
Once his reputation was tarnished, his valid claims for urgent action on the issue of voting had a lot less credibility among the leadership and influential media figures in Washington. The voter suppression efforts were mostly unsuccessful though, because of efforts among media and activists to raise awareness, while attorney Holder’s role became secondary.
The calls for an attorney general to resign certainly has precedent. While this week is filled with accusations that attorney general Holder committed perjury in his congressional testimony, the previous administration’s attorney’s general John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales both received calls for their early resignations throughout their tenures.
Ashcroft was sharply criticized for the expansive war powers authorized by the Patriot Act which lead to illegal spying on American citizens. Gonzales was grilled in front of Congress on numerous occasions over the politically-motivated firing of several U.S. attorneys, and he was also accused of committing perjury.
An attempt to tarnish Obama’s legacy
While some of the criticism of Holder has merit, the high-pitched screams demanding his resignation from the outset were always about politics.
What wasn’t successful at derailing a second term for President Obama is now an attempt to hobble Obama’s second-term agenda.
Whether attorney general Holder’s legacy will be mired by the most recent scandals, there is no question; he was a target of smears and partisan fire from the beginning of the administration. From this losing position, the attorney general struggled during a time where a progressive administration tackled the confusion left behind by the previous administration with regards to the war on terror and the balance between civil liberties and national security.
Holder may resign on his own terms or in disgrace, but no matter how this saga ends, it started with an attorney general swimming up the proverbial stream.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.