Obama Should Think Twice About This Clinton Retread
Attorney General candidate Eric Holder played a key role in the much-maligned pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. (Also, Roger Kimball on Eric Holder, Radical)
November 18, 2008 - 12:35 am
Or, as Dowd put it:
Eric Holder, former No. 2 at Justice and the latest casualty of the Clinton twister, offered lame and contradictory excuses about why he failed to rebut the argument of Jack Quinn, once Mr. Clinton’s White House counsel and Monica apologist. Meanwhile, Mr. Holder was being touted as a possible attorney general in a Gore administration, where Mr. Quinn might be chief of staff. First, Mr. Holder said he did not make a fuss because he did not know who Marc Rich was. Then he said he did not make a fuss because he assumed a pardon would not be granted to a known fugitive.
And then Holder advised the White House that on the pardon — this would be one being sought by the attorney whose help Holder was seeking to get into the Gore administration — he was “neutral, leaning toward favorable.” He made this recommendation, despite the fact that under Department of Justice guidelines, Rich would not have been eligible for a pardon until five years after completing any sentence.
This exchange with Sen. Mike DeWine captures the incredulity with which Holder’s conduct was observed by Congress:
SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: I want to make sure I understand the facts. So you did know that he was a fugitive under the facts as recited to you by Mr. Quinn?
HOLDER: Yes. I knew he was a fugitive.
DEWINE: You knew he was a fugitive, and still you said you didn’t know that you necessarily had any objection to that? Didn’t the fact that he was a fugitive bother you?
HOLDER: Sure it did. What I said to the White House counsel ultimately was that I was neutral on this because I didn’t have a factual basis to make a determination as to whether or not Mr. Quinn’s contentions were in fact accurate, whether or not there had been a change in the law, a change in the applicable Justice Department regulations, and whether or not that was something that would justify the extraordinary grant of a pardon.
DEWINE: So the fact that he was a fugitive did not take it out of the realm of possibility? You didn’t say, “Well, gee, he’s a fugitive, therefore I wouldn’t be in favor of this.” I mean, you come down you’re neutral based on the facts as given to you by Mr. Quinn. I just want to make sure I understand your rationale here, your thought process.
HOLDER: Essentially what I was trying to say, what I tried to convey, was that I didn’t have a basis to make a determination; again, assuming that what Mr. Quinn said — I mean, you’re accurate, I did not reflexively say that I was opposed to this because he was a fugitive, having had that experience with I guess Mr. Preston King, who was a fugitive and who ultimately was granted a pardon that I supported. But I did not think, given the fact that he was a fugitive, that this was ever a matter likely to be successfully concluded from Mr. Rich’s perspective.
(Holder, of course, was not merely “neutral,” but “neutral leaning toward favorable,” so his testimony in this regard was not entirely candid.)
So returning to Holder’s possible selection as Attorney General, the mind reels as to why this person, who participated in a notorious Clinton scandal and himself seemed so oblivious to his own conflict of interest, would be chosen. Is this the New Politics? Or is it a throwback to the Clinton years, the very years Obama is attempting to turn the page on, to put behind us all?
When one looks to the people Obama in turn has selected as mentors (e.g., Reverend Wright, Father Michael Pfleger), friends (e.g., Tony Rezko), and now key advisors (e.g., Eric Holder), voters may begin to question whether Obama possesses the judgment necessary to run an effective and scandal-free administration. If Holder is emblematic of Obama’s personnel decisions and an example of what is to come, the answer is “no.”