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Eric Holder And Groucho Marxism

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The chief law enforcement officer in the United States has a problem with rhetoric, not to mention reality. This was in plain view the other day as he attempted to answer questions during a hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee. It was not a pretty sight—in fact, it was a tortured display.

Our Attorney General, Eric Holder, wants to have it both ways. He is comfortable speaking with reckless abandon about laws he has never read and he is quite uncomfortable forming syllables about something he actually knows about, but would rather ignore or deny.

Michelle Malkin

First, there was Mr. Holder’s response to a query by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who was simply trying to get the Attorney General to utter the words “radical” and “Islam” in the same sentence. Watching the video, I was reminded of one of my daughters trying to get her four-year old son to say the two words “I’m” and “sorry” in similar convergence. Maybe the congressman should have given the highly effective “I’m going to count to three!” warning.

In the past, Mr. Holder has demonstrated no such rhetorical hesitancy when describing America as a “nation of cowards” on matters of race relations. Nor has he ever had trouble putting the pejorative “war criminal” in front of George W. Bush’s name. But when it comes to the vitally important “why” in the recently thwarted Times Square bombing case, uttering the words “radical Islam” in relation to what Faisal Shahzad tried to do is apparently repugnant to our Attorney General.

This should come as no surprise. There has been a concerted effort underway from the moment of Barack Obama’s inauguration to progressively purge language that might offend Muslims from our national debate—even vocabulary. And it all has a Marxist ring to it. Not the Karl kind, but rather the Groucho variety, as with the quip:

“Are you going to believe me, or what you see with your own eyes?”

As if that exchange wasn’t bad enough, Eric Holder still had another foot to chew on the other day during the same hearing. Holder was caught flatfooted when Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) asked the Attorney General about the new Arizona immigration law. What follows is the transcript of the exchange. My only regret is that Mr. Poe didn’t interrupt the dialogue with another Groucho Marxism: “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”

REP. TED POE: So Arizona, since the federal government fails to secure the border, desperately passed laws to protect its own people. The law is supported by 70 percent of the people in Arizona, 60 percent of all Americans and 50 percent of all Hispanics, according to The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll done just this week. And I understand that you may file a lawsuit against the law. It seems to me the administration ought to be enforcing border security and immigration laws and not challenge them and that the administration is on the wrong side of the American people. Have you read the Arizona law?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I have not had a chance to -- I've glanced at it. I have not read it.

POE: It's 10 pages. It's a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long. I'll give you my copy of it, if you would like to -- to have a copy.

Even though you haven't read the law, do you have an opinion as to whether it's constitutional

HOLDER: I have not really -- I have not been briefed yet. We, as I said, have had underway a review of the law. I have not been briefed by the people who have been responsible -- who are responsible for that review.

POE: Are you going to read the law?

HOLDER: I'm sure I will read the law in anticipation of that briefing. I know that they will put that in front of me, and I'll spend a good evening reading that law.

POE: Well, I've gone through it. And it's pretty simple. It takes the federal law and makes it -- enacts it in a state statute, although makes it much more refined in that it actually says in one of the sections that no state or subdivision may consider race, color, national origin in implementing the requirements of any subsection of this law.

It seems to outlaw racial profiling in the law. I know there's been a lot of media hype about the -- the legislation. Do you see a difference in the constitutionality of a statute and the constitutionality of the application of that statute? Do you see there's a difference in those two?

HOLDER: Sure, there is a potential for challenging a law on its face and then challenging a law as it is applied. So there are two bases for challenging a particular statute.

POE: And when do you think you will have an opinion as to whether the law is constitutional?

HOLDER: I've used this term a lot, but I think this is -- I think relatively soon. I think that we have to -- there has been much discussion about this. The review is underway. The Department of Justice along with the Department of Homeland Security is involved in this review. And I would expect it -- our view of the law will be expressed relatively soon.

POE: You have some concerns about the statute. And it's -- it's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you hadn't even read the law.

It seems like you wouldn't make a judgment about whether it violates civil rights statutes, whether it violates federal preemption concepts if you haven't read the law. So can you help me out there a little bit, how you can make a judgment call on -- on that, but you haven't read the law and determined whether it's constitutional or not?

HOLDER: Well, what I've said is that I've not made up my mind. I've only made -- made the comments that I've made on the basis of things that I've been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television, talking to people who are on the review panel, on the review team looking at the law.

But I've not reached any conclusions as yet with regard to -- I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with the people who are doing the review, exactly what my position is. (End of excerpt)

Frankly, there is nothing I can add to this—except maybe canned laughter, or possibly another Groucho line Eric Holder may want to use in a future appearance before Congress: “Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.”

But the Attorney General probably prefers this Groucho Marxism: “If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again.”

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