The Justice Department decided to respond to Attorney General Eric Holder’s deployment of the race card with a statement that essentially pulls the Jedi Mind Trick and informs us that we did not hear what we heard. First, a little reminder of Holder’s exact words, from a New York Times sponge bath entitled “A Partisan Lighting Rod Is Undeterred”:
In the interview, Mr. Holder offered a glimpse of how he viewed the criticism. He said he thought some critics — like Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who favors allowing the military to handle terrorism suspects over the criminal justice system — are expressing “good faith” arguments about their policy disagreements.
But Mr. Holder contended that many of his other critics — not only elected Republicans but also a broader universe of conservative commentators and bloggers — were instead playing “Washington gotcha” games, portraying them as frequently “conflating things, conveniently leaving some stuff out, construing things to make it seem not quite what it was” to paint him and other department figures in the worst possible light.
Of that group of critics, Mr. Holder said he believed that a few — the “more extreme segment” — were motivated by animus against Mr. Obama and that he served as a stand-in for him. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he said, “both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Mr. Holder, however, attributed most of the hostility to underlying ideological differences. “I think that people, despite my law enforcement background, view me as taking these consistently progressive stands, and I think that, philosophically, there is a desire to get at that person,” he said. “But I think the stands I have taken are totally consistent with a person who is looking at things realistically, factually.”
I’ve boldfaced the part which the Justice Departments’ Office of Hypnotic Statements wants you to forget.
Everyone capable of understanding simple conversational English was able to follow the plain meaning of these words. One such was Representative Allen West (R-FL), whose ire is informed by the fact that he is, you know, African-American, if I might borrow the Attorney General’s soaring rhetoric. In a phone interview with the Daily Caller, West spoke out strongly against Holder’s obvious play of the race card:
“I think this is absolutely the last card in the deck, and that shows how weak their ground is,” West said in a phone interview. “But, what that means is they want to make white individuals afraid of continuing to put the pressure on Eric Holder because they don’t want to be seen as racist, and that is something that we have got to move beyond.”
West said Holder can’t logically assign race as a motivation behind the criticisms for his handling of Operation Fast and Furious. “What Fast and Furious has to do with is misleading the Congress and the American people about what you knew about this program, and if you did not know anything about this program, then who’s in charge of the Department of Justice?” West said. “It has nothing to do with your race — it has everything to do with competence, with your character and with your ability to lead the Department of Justice.”
West said Holder’s use of race as a way to attack his critics is “the most insidious thing I ever heard.”
“I grew up in the United States military and it’s not about your color, it’s about your competence, it’s about your abilities to execute a mission,” West said. “If your commanding officer turns heat on you, it’s because you have failed to achieve the mission and I think what we’re doing is we’re looking at something that was a very horrible program — this Operation Fast and Furious.”
Here’s the official Justice Department response to that, as read by Greta Van Susteren of Fox News:
That is a complete distortion of the attorney general’s comment. His comments both in the article and elsewhere made clear that he believes much of the criticism is launched against him are unfortunately the typical Washington gotcha game. A simple reading of those comments show he was referring to how he is identified with the president given their close relationship and all they share in common including their ideology.
The position of the attorney general has been a target for partisan attacks, and given the critical work that this attorney general he is doing at the Department of Justice, it’s no surprise that some are engaging in such tactics. His critics rightly view the attorney general is a progressive force, and given our current political environment, there will those who use any opportunity to score political points.
This statement is much more effective if you print it on a piece of paper and spin it rapidly, forming a hypnotic pinwheel, while chugging eggnog. It’s possible the resulting trancelike state and/or nausea might make you forget what Eric Holder actually said, or the abundantly clear context of his remarks.
It may be that Holder believes “much of the criticism” against him is “unfortunately the typical Washington gotcha game,” but he expressly stated that he thinks some of it is racial in nature, including an attempt to use him as some kind of voodoo doll to vent racist frustrations against President Obama. This is a shocking insult, not only to the integrity, but also the intelligence of anyone who watched Holders’ utterly appalling Fast and Furious testimony.
People are dead because of Operation Fast and Furious. The idea that Holder remained in office for one single day after the program came to light is absurd. His “I don’t read my email” defense against possible perjury charges only made it more clear that he has no business being anywhere near the Attorney General’s office. And now the nation’s top lawman plays the race card to save his hide… and his department produces the lamest, clumsiest attempt at spin to come out of Washington in living memory? That’s not going to work any better than Holder jabbing his finger at reporters and ordering them not to report on the growing chorus of Congressional calls for his resignation.