While calls for U.S. Attorney General Eric "Stonewall" Holder's resignation grow and the House GOP gears up for a contempt vote next week, it's worth remembering how we got into this mess. In two words: feckless bipartisanship.
"I like Barack Obama and want to help him if I can." That was Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch in January 2009, just weeks before the Senate voted on President Obama's attorney general nominee, Eric Holder. Right out of the gate, upon Obama's election in November 2008, Hatch signaled that he would greenlight the administration's top law enforcer.
"I start with the premise that the president deserves the benefit of the doubt," the six-term incumbent Hatch told The Hill newspaper. "I don't think politics should be played with the attorney general."
Utah voters, mark those words. Bending to bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake -- and ignoring the obvious consequences -- is playing politics.
And, conservatives, please remember the actions of all 19 Republican senators who ignored Holder's abominable career as a political fixer and confirmed him. "I found Mr. Holder to be a good listener, which is an important prerequisite for any good leader," Missouri GOP Sen. Kit Bond explained in support of the nomination. "I believe him when he says that he's willing to take good ideas from wherever they come."
In addition to Hatch and Bond, the other 17 Senate Republicans who helped put Holder in place at the Justice Department were: Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Bob Bennett, R-Utah, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., John McCain, R-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
It's not like these GOP enablers weren't warned over and over about Holder's shady judgment and questionable ethics. The 2002 House Committee on Government Reform's report on the Clinton-era Marc Rich pardon scandal spelled out Holder's willingness to put political ambition above the rule of law. Then-Deputy Attorney General Holder and former White House counsel Jack Quinn, who was representing the fugitive financier Rich, worked together to cut the Justice Department out of the process.