The Republicans are set to bring ‘contempt’ of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder next week for his testimony on Operation Fast & Furious. This answers the question if last week’s hearings with Eric Holder on the Hill was just a dog-and-pony show (with apologies to President Obama for the culinary clash of register).
There may be some Republican voters who want Eric Holder’s official standing in the Obama administration delivered, John Baptist-like, on a silver platter to the thunderous applause of the American mob. But if the GOP proceeds with caution and aplomb, they can make the contempt trial of Eric Holder into a no-lose proposition.
Certainly, Attorney General Holder merits worse than contempt charges for his administrative responsibility in the Operation Fast & Furious debacle, which led to the deaths of thousands of Mexican citizens, and memorably for the American public, border agent Brian Terry. The ensuing cover-up in the Department of Justice and “ATF” are their own scandals, deserving of censure in their own right.
But at this stage in the investigation, contempt is the most justice that can be served against an appendage of a Head of State whose staunch ideology, hubris, and cold calculation of election politics forbid anything as drastic as removing Holder from office. If Barack Obama had a conscience, Holder would have been sacked after his intervention in the New Black Panthers’ voter intimidation case.
Instead, the public will have to settle for the highly visible trial of an Attorney General who has provided the Republicans with ample firepower over the course of an investigation that has seen no less than eight separate hearings with Holder himself.
The highest law enforcement official in the land has stonewalled by refusing to turn over more than a hundred thousand requested documents. He has insulted the intelligence of the House Republicans by feigning that references to “Fast and Furious” in departmental emails and memos do not refer to “Operation Fast and Furious.” Holder has lied countless times, such as when he first learned of Fast and Furious, and has pretended not to remember inconvenient facts.
Recall that such inability to remember is what led to Scooter Libby’s perjury charges, even though Libby was not a part of the Plamegate leak. In addition, Bush did not fully pardon him, he only commuted his sentence.
Ideally, due to the scope of this bloody international incident, the buck should stop with President Obama. But since the struggle to hold the president accountable for his corrupt and reckless actions through the voting process is ongoing, the Republicans must hold back appearing overly political in this highly sensitive political season.
If they can accomplish that, they will put themselves in a no-lose situation. If Holder proves himself indubitably to have engaged in dishonest actions, then a vote of contempt would become a negative blight upon the administration. The more public this forthright and fair process is, presumably to be held on C-SPAN (barring a gag executive order), the better.
Secondly, if Holder is exonerated, this will show that the Republican Party is not filled with the kind of hyper-partisans that the Obama administration is full of. If Republicans pursue justice and accountability on behalf of the American people with the utmost of integrity, this will aid them in this election year, regardless of result.
Conservatives may bridle at this presentiment. But the argument turns on attitude.
While we conservatives would savor the image of Eric Holder in an orange prison jumpsuit… that is not going to happen. Not only would it be impossible to muster the political capital to get Holder forcibly removed from office, there is the matter of going after high-ranking officials in a sitting administration and the precedent it would set. Such vindictive actions are common fare in banana republics; even if in this case, it might be warranted.
But let us keep the big picture in mind, even as we are aggrieved of the human damage Operation Fast & Furious caused and are threatened by the Constitutional assault the scandal implies. The adept and judicious managing of a Holder contempt trial would help lead to the ultimate conclusion for conservatives: Not only Holder, but Obama removed from office.
Instead of concentrating on a tempest in a tea cup, which is what an entertaining and explosive Holder contempt trial would be, even as it resulted in self-inflicted damage among moderates and independents, let’s ‘go meta’ on the political situation.
In November, millions of citizen jurors will turn out to render a verdict on the lawlessness of the Obama administration. By contrasting themselves with the shameless Democrats, the GOP will make it easier for Americans to render a decision on the Obama regime: Guilty, as charged.
Update: This blog post was updated to reflect the House Republicans’ scheduling of a contempt vote next week.