Despite some positive actions — refusing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that is plainly discriminatory, and calling for long-overdue sentencing reform, for instance – Holder's tenure has been marked by a disturbing mix of duplicity, incompetence, and obliviousness.
Which is another way of saying that he was a thoroughly typical attorney general, a cabinet position that has long been held by individuals whose first loyalty is to the president that appointed them rather than to the Constitution they swear to defend….
Arguably more disturbing was Holder's central role in signing off on the secret monitoring of Fox News' James Rosen and other journalists and his staunch defense of National Security Agency surveillance programs (even when federal oversight boards decreed them unconstitutional and ineffective). It took a 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to get Holder to acknowledge in plain language that there were in fact limits to the president's secret kill list (the existence of which is itself deeply disturbing).
That Holder has moderated on some of these issues — just a couple of weeks ago, Holder voiced support for NSA reforms that would "provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system" — only drives home just how situational his ethics and actions always have been as attorney general.
Holder was up to his eyeballs in various scandals (such as Fast and Furious) and he was always willing to play coy and stupid when the moment served. In his defense, the position of attorney general is to be the president's bag man, to carry out and then defend all the horrible things an administration can do.
But will anyone miss him more than we miss Alberto Gonzales or John Ashcroft or Janet Reno? Obviously not, unless his successor is even worse. Which is always possible.