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.
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.