19 November, 2008

Obama's Attorney-General: Steve Benen Gets His Wish

Earlier today, Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly was waxing poetic over the possibility that Eric Holder would be our next AG:
I'm very encouraged by some of the names who may be joining Barack Obama's cabinet. Here's the latest report on the would-be Attorney General.

President-elect Obama has decided to tap Eric Holder as his attorney general, putting the veteran Washington lawyer in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department, according to two legal sources close to the presidential transition.

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal "vetting" review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. [...]

Holder, 57, has been on Obama's "short list" for attorney general from the outset. A partner at the D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, Holder served as co-chief (along with Caroline Kennedy) of Obama's vice-presidential selection process.... A New York City native who graduated from Columbia University and Columbia Law School, Holder spent years as a federal prosecutor—a job in which he earned a reputation as tough and aggressive foe of public corruption. After serving in the public integrity section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and later a District of Columbia Superior Court judge, Holder was named by President Clinton as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He became deputy attorney general in 1997 under Janet Reno and was viewed as a centrist on most law enforcement issues, though he has sharply criticized the secrecy and the expansive views of executive power advanced by the Bush Justice Department.

The AP reports that Obama aides have already reached out to Senate offices about whether Holder's confirmation would go smoothly.

Everything I know of Holder is positive (check out this speech he delivered to the American Constitution Society a few years ago). He's universally respected and as a former deputy AG, knows a bit about how the Justice Department is supposed to work. And after eight years of Bushies trashing the joint, that's an important skill to bring to the table. (No, don't pay any mind to that Marc Rich issue.)

Steve should be a happy man come tomorrow:

NBC news confirms that Eric Holder will accept the position as Barack Obama's Attorney General. NBC's Savannah Guthrie talked to Mark Whitaker who reports that Holder was the front runner for the position.

John Amato:

Holder comes out of the Clinton administration and was linked to the Mark Rich pardon which will have Conservatives up in arms, but supported Barack Obama for president. We need an AG for the people and not like the Bush crony Alberto Gonzales. It's no shock that Obama will appoint ex-Clinton people to his staff as his administration takes shape. Many capable people came out of that administration.

And Looseheadprop over at Firedoglake is going to have to find a new moniker, because her head's going to explode. There's wailing and gnashing of teeth over at Daily Kos, too, but that's only a brief interruption to the histrionics over Lieberman.

Myself, I think this is a fine choice, and I'll sum it up in Eric Holder's own words (pdf):

The choices that are being made by those conservatives, those neo-conservatives, who control all three branches of our government, threaten to undermine the real progress that this nation has made in so many areas over so many years. With all due respect to President Reagan, the problem is not government. The problem is with those who run the government. In the struggle against terrorism, these people have made a mockery of the rule of law.


The notion that the Department of Justice would in essence sanction the use of torture as part of the President’s plenary power over military operations is as wrong as it is shortsighted. This position flies in the face of the entire history of American law, helping to create a climate in which unnecessarily abusive conduct can somehow be considered legitimate.


When government lawyers are asked how prisoners, how prisoners held by our government must be treated, it is inconceivable to me that they would fashion arguments to bolster the obviously false claim that torture and abuse are permissible tools of American policy.


Now when I spoke to you last year, I said that we were engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation. That battle continues today, and if anything, has become even more consequential. The arrogance of our conservative brethren in the exercise of the power that they temporarily hold is breathtaking. From redistricting schemes, to attacks on abortion rights, to energy policies that are as shortsighted as they are ineffective, to tax cuts that disproportionately favor those who are well off and perpetuate many of the inequities in our nation, the conservative movement has been unafraid to push the limits in advancing this agenda.


The nation must be reminded that the word liberal is more than a conservative slur. The nation must be reminded that it was the progressive, liberal tradition that brought about the social and economic changes that were necessary many years ago. The nation must be convinced that it is a progressive future that holds the greatest promise for equality and the continuation of those policies that serve to support the greatest number of our people.

You know what? There's a lot more, but I'll stop there. Go read his speech, and read Deoliver47's wonderful diary giving us a snapshot biography, and remember one thing: this man is megaparsecs better than what we've had, and even if he's not our personal favorite choice, he's an excellent one indeed.

Besides, Steve loves him, and I've trusted Steve's judgement now for - ye gods, approaching two years. He hasn't let me down yet.

I think Obama picked a winner.

1 comment:

Cujo359 said...

Glenn Greenwald seems to agree with you. For me, the jury's still out. I suppose it comes down to what you think the relative merits are of past associations (something a lawyer can't always choose) and deeds on their behalf, words at various times and places, and his independence from the Obama campaign.

While he sounded good on the issue of rule of law for the government, and on torture in 2004 and later, as Greenwald points out, he didn't sound so great in 2002.

He's not the obvious problem that John Brennan represents, but he's not without his issues.