Republican opposition towards the nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General is being driven, it seems, by Karl Rove himself.
Ceci Connolly, national staff writer for the Washington Post, said as much on Sunday, when she passed on a bit of hill gossip in the waning moments of "The Chris Matthews Show."
"Word on the street is that Karl Rove is going to be helping lead the fight against Eric Holder when his nomination for Attorney General heads up to the Senate," she said.
Two days earlier, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy accused Rove of the same behind-the-scenes shenanigans when his office released a lengthy statement decrying the hypocrisy of the GOP's Holder criticisms.
"In my statement to the Senate on November 20, I commended Senators Hatch, Sessions, Coburn, and Grassley for their nonpartisanship when they praised his selection.... But of course since then, Karl Rove has appeared on the Today Show and signaled that Republicans ought to go after Mr. Holder. Right-wing talk radio took up the drum beat."
The airing of concerns about Holder by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee has been unexpectedly uniform and vocal. Their charge is as much about process as politics. More time is needed to review Holder's record, they claim -- in particular, the controversial pardons he oversaw towards the end of the Clinton administration.
And, proving Leahy's point, Rove previewed all of these criticisms. On December 1, he told the "Today Show" that Holder "was deeply involved as the Deputy Attorney General in the controversial pardon" of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
"I think it's going to be clearly examined," said Rove, "if for no other reason than people want to lay down markers that that kind of behavior is inappropriate. ... But again, there will be some attention paid to this."
Certainly, the accusation that the former Bush strategist is engineering GOP opposition to the Holder nomination, while conspiratorial, is not without merit. Rove has long viewed tactical victories as a way towards building political momentum. And the memory of, say, Harriet Miers' failed nomination to the Supreme Court and the damage it caused the Bush White House is likely fresh on his and other Republicans' minds.