Eric Holder is Obama's Human Shield: Nick Gillespie in Daily Beast

I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast. It's about how awful Eric Holder is and why that makes him an exemplary attorney general.

Snippet:

Eric Holder may not be the worst attorney general in American history, but he is the most recent—which amounts to nearly the same thing.

Despite its exalted status as the nation’s “top cop,” the job is best understood as a dumping ground for intermittently competent bulldogs who take out the president’s trash and act as his public-relations human shield. That was the basic duty of George W. Bush’s troika of torture apologists: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Mukasey. Ashcroft went so far after the 9/11 attacks as to argue that dissent itself verged on the unconstitutional....

No one understands the essential role of the attorney general better than our current president. In 2007, then-senator Obama told Larry King that he voted against confirming Albert Gonzales as attorney general because Gonzo “seemed to conceive his role as being the president’s attorney instead of being the people’s attorney.”

Upon taking over the Oval Office, Obama quickly rethought many long-held beliefs, including his views on executive power. It’s no wonder he now has a “president’s attorney” of his own, and every reason to retain his scandal-plagued counsel.

Whole thing here.

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  • wareagle||

    gradually concluding that Holder is not going anywhere - he is far too arrogant to admit having done anything wrong and Obama isn't going to fire him. In a couple of weeks, even the liberals who think the AG should go will flip and start calling it old news, a witch hunt, or some such.

  • gaijin||

    start calling it old news, a witch hunt, or some such.

    I'm partial to 'so-called scandal'.

  • Drake||

    They won't call it anything - it will simply be ignored. Silence will be their defense and most of the media will cooperate.

  • thom||

    They'll give it a quick eyeroll while they mutter something to themselves about teabaggers.

  • Wesley Mouch||

    You left out "republican overreach".

  • ||

    No pop culture references or slightly dirty jokes? Are you OK Nick?

  • Rich||

    Nick, I trust you'll write another piece on the conspiracy-nut reason Holder stays on: He's got the goods on Obama. I tend to discount this explanation, however, because if it were true then why would Valerie Jarrett enable it? Hmmm. Unless, of course, ....

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Obama knows how to take care of whistle-blowers, so what's the delay?

    He can threaten Holder with:
    1--An IRS audit.
    2--Assassination by Predator drone.
    3--Naked imprisonment in an isolation cell with Bradley Manning.
    4--A trip to a secret CIA torture site in Afghanistan.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Doesn't Nick know that you can't mention Bush here?

    Yesterday, during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed there is no express right to habeas corpus in the U.S. Constitution. Gonzales was debating Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) about whether the Supreme Court’s ruling on Guantanamo detainees last year cited the constitutional right to habeas corpus. Gonzales claimed the Court did not cite such a right, then added, “There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/polit.....es-habeas/

  • WTF||

    NEEDZ MOAR CHRISTFAG!!

  • Virginian||

    “There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.”

    __________

    He's not wrong. This is why the anti-Federalists were opposed to the Constitution. They knew that, sooner or later, the tyrants would make this argument.

  • MJGreen||

    Did you notice, however, that Nick didn't conclude his piece with:

    So we should ease up on whatever transgressions the Republicans attribute to Eric Holder, because Bush's AGs were far worse.

    Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and scored 87 on the LP Purity Test.

  • ||

    scored 87 on the LP Purity Test.

    Let's be clear here, this is the Pluggertarian Purity Test, it's a bit different. The more times you reference Bush's misdeeds in answering issues, the higher your score.

  • Fatty Bolger||

  • Rich||

    Sweet.

  • Fluffy||

    Our current form of government has a handful of fundamental flaws.

    The current way our Senate is selected is one such flaw. Over time, I have managed to unlearn the public school history textbook lesson about how the 17th Amendment was such a great victory, and now see that having two popular legislatures is not a great idea, even if one of them does not have proportional representation.

    And the other one is the way that we completely lack an independent official who can take either the President or any legislator to task. The balance between the Presidency and the Congress cannot be maintained in a party-based system. The Founders just didn't anticipate how much party loyalty a President would command from Congressmen. Even a minority party President is effectively immune from Congressional oversight if he just avoids making really simple and obvious tactical errors (errors Nixon was too stupid to avoid).

    The Attorney General cannot police the executive branch because the office is now just an extension of the White House Counsel's office.

    We need a permanent Independent Counsel. Or, hell, nine permanent Independent Counsels, one each appointed by every member of the Supreme Court. And make it impossible to lower the office's budget, the way it's impossible to cut Congressional pay. The office's budget can only rise, and must rise at the rate of growth of federal spending overall. And then set that office loose on the Presidency.

    It's the only way.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh, and that "permanent Independent Counsel" was supposed to be an armed citizenry that was also politically engaged.

  • Virginian||

    America is at that awkward stage.

  • Fluffy||

    An armed revolution is a blunt instrument, and not very good at issuing a subpoena.

    We need an institution that is fundamentally set up in opposition to the executive, whose reason for existence and sole opportunity for aggrandizement is the public humiliation of the Executive, and which is as independent as possible from our two popular legislatures.

    The only time we've had such an institution in my lifetime (because the press sure ain't it) was when Ken Starr was around.

  • WTF||

    The original idea was that if one branch got too upity, the other two branches would slap them down. Unfortunately, what we now have is all three branches uniting to expand their power and screw the populace.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The original idea was that if one branch got too upity, the other two branches would slap them down.

    As Fluffy points out, that idea did not anticipate the political party system. Even now the branch most likely to "slap down" the others is the one farthest removed (though not entirely removed) from the political parties.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I agree with you that we need to return the Senate to its original purpose, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Even US Attorneys have been rendered impotent - witness the political firings in the 2007 US Attorney housecleaning.

  • WTF||

    BUSHPIG!!11!!!

  • Ben the Duck||

    YABBUT BUSH!!!

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    My dog's bigger than your dog.

  • Floridian||

    I thought nuking it from orbit was the only way to be sure. At least that is what I have read here.

  • Bill||

    I just googled the 17th amendment and today is the 100th anniversary of its passage, apparently.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I just googled the 17th amendment and today is the 100th anniversary of its passage, apparently.

    I'll take that as a sign that I should be flying the flag at half mast today.

  • KDN||

    The current way our Senate is selected is one such flaw. Over time, I have managed to unlearn the public school history textbook lesson about how the 17th Amendment was such a great victory, and now see that having two popular legislatures is not a great idea, even if one of them does not have proportional representation.

    I wholeheartedly agree. The 17th amendment eviscerated the philosophical foundation of the United States that the People, the States, and the Federal Government are all separate entities with separate rights and powers. It's the root of all "the Government is us!" crap. The States should have some representation in Congress.

    Additionally, Congressional districts are entirely too large; these guys are essentially junior-grade Senators. We don't necessarily need one for every ZIP code, but one for somewhere between 20k and 50k people seems right to me (let them assemble at the Verizon Center).

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Why should they need to assemble?

    Let each Congress Critter manage his own bills, put them up for public review and discussion, and revision by its author, and after it has been unchanged in review for one month, count votes for it. No need for votes against; it either gets 50% + 1 or it fails.

    Get rid of committees, seniority, all that claptrap. No need for a central meeting place. One month review is plenty of time for everyone, both the public and other critters, to discuss, in public, what they don't like, to work out compromises and convince the author to revise the bill and restart the one month review period.

    Sure, parties would try to maintain party discipline, with lists of bills to ignore and ones to vote for, and their own caucuses where the leaders try to cram and corral crony changes. But really popular bills would generate enough pressure to override that, as long as committees and seniority had no constitutional or legal authority.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    let them assemble at the Verizon Center
    Only if on rare occasions. I'm inclined to think that we ought to do away with the notion of a permanent capital. They should telecommute. Cities could compete to host the government (for ceremonial purposes) on a rotating basis (none of the last ten cities are eligible). Having a capital has given us a permanent political class distinct from the general public. Let's reverse course on that.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    We need a permanent Independent Counsel. Or, hell, nine permanent Independent Counsels, one each appointed by every member of the Supreme Court. And make it impossible to lower the office's budget, the way it's impossible to cut Congressional pay.

    Because independent political actors have such a great track record in American government?

    I go the opposite direction and think the fundamental flaw is separation of powers and staggered elections. Both sound great in theory, but in practice limit the government's accountability to the public, which is the only redeeming feature of democracy.

  • Robert||

    Hell, there are sooo many flaws contributing to that. Probably the biggest is the ability of legislatures to pass vague and/or broad enabling statutes that are then up to administrative proceedings and agencies to fill in details of. Unfortunately I see no good way to draw a line limiting that; people point out that the things gov't does in the way of licensure, etc. are too voluminous & technical for legislative bodies to take on and...fuck, they're right! Plus, making them all openly partisan issues wouldn't be very satisfying either. I shudder to think what it'd be like if, as in many parliamentary systems, legislators did double duty as administrators. True, you'd gain some theoretic measure of accountability, but you'd lose that in practice to a party system that would grow even stronger in such a regime.

  • Wesley Mouch||

    Yeah, but will they give undecided voters free money?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The Founders just didn't anticipate how much party loyalty a President would command from Congressmen.

    Oh? I can think of at least one Founder who did.

  • Fluffy||

    I think he saw the danger of factions in general, but failed to specifically foresee that members of Congress would willfully help a President of their own party obstruct and evade a Congressional investigation into wrongdoing by the Executive Branch.

    If the Congress is not a reliable check on the Executive, for whatever reason, then the tripartite structure of our government is a failed design.

  • db||

    This. At some point a Constitutional Convention will be needed and it is very important that libertarians come to the table and the press with plenty of suggestions and reasoning backing them.

  • Rich||

    Any speculation on a timeframe?

  • db||

    Not really. I just think that it will be difficult for Americans to reconsider their national identity and therefore, it will be more likely that serious political and economic crises will result in a reformation of our governing processes at some point. Others seem to think a clean break or revolution is likely but I disagree. The best way would be the way provided for in the Constitution, which is peaceful and deliberative. We are civilized enough to see the benefits of that.

    While the specific form of government laid out in the Constitution may have failed, the founders were smart enough to write in methods for peaceful change.

    My concern would be that if lovers of liberty did not come to tbe table with strong proposals backed by good and understandable reasoning, the deliberative rewrite would become a process largely managed by the politically powerful and other entrenched interests.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I disagree. Washington, like most educated men of his time, was well versed in the Classics. He knew the history of the Roman Republic; he knew how the optimates and the populares gamed the system and obstructed the powers of the consulship and the dicatorship.

  • Tim||

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  • Rich||

    Are you looking for additional "foreign partners", Tim? I'm sure a committee can being formed for writing in indulged trust this indication of interest.

  • ||

    Sounds legit.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    What's your email and SSN?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Upon taking over the Oval Office, Obama quickly rethought many long-held beliefs...

    Supposed beliefs.

  • Bill||

    Ya know, there are campaign trail beliefs and then there are the other kind. And of course, they are completely elastic. After all, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. (Say those with no principles)

  • db||

    Someone the other day posted an article describing Holder as Obama's sin eater.

  • creech||

    I'm not sure what it means, but finally, after 35+ years, the media has stopped putting "gate" on the end of every scandal.

  • Lord Humungus||

    they aren't scandal-scandals.

  • Rich||

    Moratoriumgate, as it were.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    We'll see if that holds up once The Lightbringer is no longer in office.

  • db||

    Socalledgate.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    This photo deserves an alt-text!

    "Just a sec...RRRRIIIIPPPPPP"

  • mr lizard||

    "talk to the hand prole"

  • Sevo||

    "Upon taking over the Oval Office, Obama quickly rethought many long-held beliefs, including his views on executive power"

    I'd say the evidence suggests his claims of 'long-held beliefs' were simply lies, outright lies.

  • Robert||

    I gotta chuckle every time I see mention of Ashcroft, because he got his job by losing an election to a dead guy.

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  • CatoTheElder||

    "Ashcroft went so far after the 9/11 attacks as to argue that dissent itself verged on the unconstitutional..."

    Ashcroft was way crazier than that. Ashcroft openly testified that dissent was tantamount to treason as defined by the Constitution.

    "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."

    Treason is defined in the Constitution as giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the US.

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