There was nothing subtle about The Washington Times' recent poll question: "Will Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. be forced to resign within the next six months?" The percentage of votes for yes was lopsided. Considering the source -- the conservative Washington Times -- the poll may have been more wishful longing than merely an objective gauge of public opinion about Holder. At the very least, it spoke to something that has been near and dear to conservatives virtually from the moment that President Obama announced his intention to nominate Holder for Attorney General in 2008. That something is to convert Holder into the whipping boy for all the GOP's manufactured alleged sins of the Obama Administration. Then once he has served that end, to try and force Obama to dump him, and point to that as example of a president with a penchant for getting a top cabinet official to do the administration's dirty work.
Holder is an all-purpose tool in the GOP's relentless drive to mark Obama as a failed president. The call for Holder's resignation is not new. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and then-GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for his ouster last June. The ostensible reason was the hit Holder took for the Justice Department's Fast and Furious gun sale sting. The call for his resignation got no traction at the time even among GOP senators. But that didn't mean Holder was off the hot seat.
The war against Holder began during his Senate confirmation hearing in 2009. He was grilled over his role as Deputy Attorney General in Bill Clinton's administration in a handful of controversial Clinton pardons, corporate lobbying, for enforcing the court order to send 6-year-old Elián González back to Cuba, and for approving the clemency request for 16 members of the radical Puerto Rican independence group FALN, convicted of a string of terrorist bombings and murders.
Holder was overwhelmingly confirmed as Attorney General. Yet, the flack he took was only the start. The GOP viewed him as a pawn in their relentless attack plan on Obama. If they could discredit, taint, and tarnish Holder for even the most picayune act, it would be another slap at Obama.
In that respect, the overblown and manufactured scandals that supposedly rack the Obama Administration have been godsends for the GOP. It couldn't wait to shove Holder back into the same congressional hot seat, as the fall guy for the administration's alleged misconduct. The pattern has been agonizingly familiar. A GOP-controlled House Committee drags Holder in for testimony on issues from the Justice Department's target of reporters for leaks to a dredge-up of the charges that Holder bungled, lied about, and had some culpability in the death of an operative in the Fast and Furious gun sting.
Each time, the GOP continues with its saber-rattling of Holder with talk of contempt convictions, lawsuits against him, demands for his firing, or resignation, a perjury investigation, and even threats to start impeachment proceedings against him. It's media-catchy and sensational enough to try and taint Holder in the public and media eye. Typing Holder as the fount of secrecy, manipulation and wrongdoing in the Obama Administration will be played and replayed in the run up to the 2014 elections. The aim will be to paint Holder as an incompetent, conniving political hack who supposedly typifies the poor and untrustworthy judgment of Obama in picking his political appointees.
Holder has tried to stay out front of the GOP attack dogs by spending hours in testimony before the GOP-controlled House panels. His latest testimony on the reporter leak flap was a near textbook rerun of prior testimonies in which the GOP grilled him on the fine details of his role in going after reporters, and then doing everything possible to get him to admit that there was misconduct, demanding that he release more documents, and then cap it off with more threats of legal action against him. Lost in the whipped-up furor by the GOP over the AP leak investigation is the inconvenient fact that the Justice Department did not prosecute, or even file charges against the targeted reporter.
As in past investigations, Holder's promise to take corrective measures to insure transparency and to fully cooperate with the House probes has meant nothing. The GOP will continue to dig to find any new alleged impropriety by Holder, will hold more hearings on them, and make the same threats to blow Holder out of the water. The GOP's dogged vow to hamstring Obama with the odor of scandal and in effect straightjacket his presidency insures that Holder will continue to serve as a red herring to toss more mud on Obama and hope that it sticks. The never-ending war on Holder is a key part of that ploy.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new ebook is How the NRA Terrorizes Congress--The NRA's Subversion of the Gun Control Debate (Amazon). He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/earlhutchinson