The GOP says it is after the “truth” in the “Fast and Furious” mess, but with 7,000 documents already handed over to the House of Representatives and the whole thing being spun into a Second Amendment issue by Republicans, it’s rather clear that this is election year politics. But, it’s fundamentally not like President Obama attempting to get more Latino votes with his immigration plan, or his crusade against medical marijuana (to appear tough on crime and drug culture to conservatives)—the GOP is actively using its House majority to create controversy for political ends.
There are echoes of the crusade against Bill Clinton in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal: if you can’t beat him legitimately, use the legislative body in an attempt to destroy him in the court of public opinion. This is what the GOP is up to with the Attorney General Eric Holder contempt vote.
“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically-motivating investigation during an election year,” said Holder in a statement. “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety. Instead of trying to correct the problems that led to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping us find ways to protect the brave law enforcement agents like Agent Bryan Terry… they have led us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome.”
Holder noted that he ordered an investigation into the flawed “Fast and Furious” program as soon as he heard of it. Issa has admitted that he has “no evidence—or even the suspicion—that the attorney general knew of the misguided tactics used in this operation.”
The Attorney General has attracted no small amount of ire over his lawsuits against states’ immigration policies (see: Arizona) and his opposition to Voter ID laws.
“The reality is that in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history,” Holder told an audience of the Congressional Black Caucus and Conference of National Black Churches in a summit in Washington. The willingness to fight the GOP’s state efforts has not endeared him to the party.
This must be understood when we are confronted with the fact that this is the first time a sitting Attorney General has been found in contempt of the House.
The GOP certainly has a flare for the dramatic, especially when it comes to election-year politics. However, aside from the electoral bump the contempt vote will provide for the GOP (“Look, we’re fighting the Democrats!”), it will be of little to no practical value. Holder has six more months to serve as Attorney General and there’s no indication that the investigation will lead to some incredible conspiracy theory that is wetting the collective GOP undies.