Thursday, October 02, 2014
Daniel Henninger begins his piece on Eric Holder thusly:
History will ill-serve Eric Holder if it does no more than echo the view common in the wake of his resignation that his tenure as Attorney General was "controversial." Mr. Holder's more than five years as the nation's chief legal officer were consequential.
In tandem with Barack Obama 's White House, Mr. Holder pushed the authority of the federal government and its administrative agencies beyond the edge of the Constitution and law. They did so not in one or several controversial instances, as with past presidencies, but repeatedly and across the breadth of the federal government.
Holder’s official duties are to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer. In reality he was Obama’s “enforcer.” He was there to give a legal gloss to what Obama wanted done. In many cases what Obama wanted Holder to do was nothing. To hold the line, to hide the truth, to obstruct justice. He was the goalie past whom no investigation of corruption or malfeasance was allowed to pass. He was Obama’s “stone wall.”
But he had help in what he did: the Democrats in Congress. When the cover-up surrounding the Watergate break-in was revealed, members of Richard Nixon’s own party went to the White House to tell the President that he should resign or face impeachment. These men put the country ahead of their party. Nixon, rather than fight impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate, resigned, sparing the country much trauma and a Constitutional crisis. There is reason to think that Nixon could have taken the route that Clinton did years later, with the same effect. The Republicans who went to the White House to confront Nixon - the Republican Senate and House leadership - also understood their critical responsibilities assigned to them by the Constitution. They were the checks and balances. Congress was there not just to make laws but to make sure that the President did not overstep his bounds. They viewed Congress as a separate and co-equal branch of government, transcending party loyalty. The Senate under the leadership of Democrat Harry Reid is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama administration. Without Reid and Pelosi, Holder could not hold the line. It is inconceivable that any action by Obama could cause a Democrat revolt. To take an extreme example, can anyone see Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi confronting Obama if he would announce that, because of a national emergency, the election of 2016 will be postponed indefinitely?
The comparison of Obama to Nixon is apt because both Presidents committed unconstitutional acts. But only one paid a price for it. Compare Eric Holder to John Mitchell, Nixon’s Attorney General. Because Mitchell aided Nixon in attempting to cover up Watergate he was indicted and sent to prison. Unless there is a dramatic change of attitude by Democrats in Congress, Holder will never be held to account for helping Obama obstruct justice in, for example, the IRS scandal or Fast & Furious. I put the onus on Democrats because it is difficult to imagine Republican leaders such as John Boehner or Mitch McConnell having the will or courage to stand up against the Democrats or (in Glenn Reynolds' memorable phrase) the "Democrats with bylines" in the media.
When you realize that the thing that separates us from a South American caudillo-style government is not the constitution, but lethargy on the part of the President, you become worried about the future.