I guess I could have made the headline say “to reisgn” or added a question mark, but this NPR report seems pretty solid, and I don’t feel like changing the headline in a couple of hours. I’ll change it to “NPR falsely spreads rumor that Eric Holder will resign” if the story doesn’t pan out. Call it Groundhog Journalism.
Here’s what NPR is saying:
Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and five and a half years of fights with Republicans in Congress.
Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly “adamant” about his desire to leave soon for fear he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama’s second term.
A lengthy career retrospective begins by saying that Holder was greeted like a rock star when he returned “in early February 2009 to the Justice Department, where he previously worked as a young corruption prosecutor and as deputy attorney general – the second in command – during the Clinton administration.” The bloom came off that rose pretty quickly:
But some of that early glow faded in part due to the politicized nature of the job and in part because of Holder’s own rhetoric, such as a 2009 Black History Month speech where he said the country was “a nation of cowards” when it comes to discussions about racial tension.
Five years later, violence erupted between police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., after a white policeman killed an unarmed black 18 year old. And this time, the White House dispatched Holder to speak his piece, in effect jump starting that conversation, and helping to settle nerves in the frayed community.
That’s the alpha and omega of Holder’s history as a divisive race-baiting activist, huh, NPR? “Nation of cowards,” Ferguson, roll credits, draw the curtains? Nothing about his habit of serving haterade to black audiences by telling them sensible voter ID laws were a racist conspiracy to disenfranchise them? How’s that big federal civil-rights investigation of George Zimmerman coming along? How about that Black Panther voter-intimidation case?
As for the “politicized nature of the job,” whose idea was that? I’m old enough to remember when Attorney Generals didn’t practice management on the side while pursuing a full-time career as political activists.
If you’re wondering about the major event of Holder’s tenure, the astonishing and deadly scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious – which ended with President Obama’s abuse of executive power to keep things covered up, and Holder receiving a historic contempt of Congress citation – that’s mentioned eleven paragraphs in, and portrayed as a partisan food fight. Here’s the Fast and Furious part of NPR’s bio, in its entirety:
Things hit a crisis point when the GOP-led House voted him in contempt for refusing to hand over documents about a gun trafficking scandal known as Fast and Furious. That represented the first time an attorney general had ever been rebuked that way but still Holder held onto his job.
Anyone who remembers how the media treated Republican Attorney General controversies – including the four-alarm freak-out they had about a silly one they made up, concerning AG John Ashcroft’s ostensible insistence on covering a nude statue with a sheet because he was a religious nut – can only shake their heads in wonder at the airbrushing of Holder’s history. Democrats sure have it good. By the way, did you know the infamous half-naked Spirit of Justice scale got covered up again under AG Holder? Do you recall the media cooking up any stories about how he was a loon for doing that?
There isn’t much insight about why Holder chose this moment to resign. I would assume it has something to do with Republicans possibly taking the Senate in November, and making confirmation hearings much more difficult, although you’d think Democrats would rather avoid a nasty confirmation battle before the election. Perhaps they’ve concluded Attorney General isn’t the sort of position that produces election-shifting confirmation battles, particularly since the candidate is likely to be someone less controversial than his or her predecessor. NPR’s sources say the leading candidate to replace him is Don Verrilli, the solicitor general who did such a great job defending ObamaCare at the Supreme Court that Chief Justice John Roberts had to swoop in and rewrite the law to keep it alive.
Update: If you thought the IRS scandal brought some crazy tales of document destruction, you ain’t seen nothing yet…
I felt a strange disturbance in the Force, as if a million emails cried out in terror and were suddenly erased. #EricHolder
??? David Burge (@iowahawkblog) September 25, 2014
Update: Funny how NPR forgot to mention Holder’s war against school choice – including programs that hugely benefit minority children in Louisiana – and his efforts to suppress journalism. I guess there are lots of journalists he didn’t have to menace.
Update: For the conspiracy minded…
Eric Holder resigns on the day GroundhogGate breaks? COINCIDENCE??!??!
??? John Hayward (@Doc_0) September 25, 2014
Here’s a more serious conspiratorial idea: maybe Holder resigning now is part of a Hail Mary pass for Democrats to keep the Senate. Conventional wisdom suggests they don’t need a bruising primary battle right now. But what if that would help them? Already the airwaves are filling up with congressional Republicans hitting Holder for his lapses, failures, and divisiveness, basically telling him not to let the doorknob hit him in the butt on his way out. Democrats, of course, will hail him as an epic hero of civil rights. That’s the kind of partisan squabble that might do more to motivate Democrat constituencies than it costs them in terms of other voters seeing Holder as a symbol of Obama Administration opacity and failure.
Update: Here’s an intriguing theory for why Holder might have chosen to resign now: the long battle to keep Fast and Furious documents hidden is failing at last.
Judge John D. Bates denies DOJ request to delay Fast & Furious document release; Holder resigns.
??? Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 25, 2014