Paul Greenberg

Remember those days of yore, namely the presidential campaign of 2008, when Democrats regularly accused the Bush administration of politicizing the Justice Department?

You could scarcely make your way down the aisle of the U.S. Senate without encountering a Democrat who was outraged, indignant and generally all het up over how the administration of justice had been corrupted. The righteous cries of Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, Russ Feingold, Patrick Leahy and all the other usual suspects rent the air. All demanded that the attorney general -- it was the hapless Alberto Gonzales at the time -- adhere to the "rule of law and the Constitution," to quote Senator Schumer.

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The new attorney general, Eric Holder, repeated the theme: "The attempts to politicize the (Justice) Department will not be tolerated should I become attorney general of the United States. It will be my intention to return (the Civil Rights0 division and the Department of Justice as a whole to its great traditions and the great traditions that it had under Democratic and Republican attorneys general and presidents. ... I will work to restore the credibility of a department badly shaken by allegations of improper political interference...."

But somehow you knew the way this would turn out, didn't you, Gentle and Savvy Reader? For promises, especially those made on the campaign trail or during confirmation hearings, tend to be like piecrusts: made to be broken. What's remarkable about this one is the speed with Obama and Holder, P.A., have broken it. Indeed, shredded it.

The outstanding example of this cynical manipulation of justice is how a case against the New Black Panthers, which the Department of Justice described as a "black super-racist organization," has been quickly and quietly shelved with minimal attention to the law and the Constitution.

The evidence is right there on the videos recorded Election Day, 2008, when uniformed members of the Black Panthers showed up at a Philadelphia polling station, one of them wielding a billy club. They shouted insults and made threats: "Cracker, you about to be ruled by a black man," one of the Panthers informed a voter. Two Republican poll watchers, a black couple, were called traitors to their race -- an accusation that will be familiar to any white Southerner who stood up for simple decency back in the bad old days.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.