In which one of conservatives’ least favorite Republicans praises one of their least favorite Democrats. The praise is mild, confined to Holder’s visit to the city and paired with criticism of him for seemingly rushing to judgment about Darren Wilson’s guilt, but can you really divorce those two things? Christopher Caldwell argues that the visit wasn’t some goodwill tour aimed at showing Fergusonians that the feds care about racial bias, it was a signal that locals can and should expect federal action against Wilson whether or not the evidence suggests probable cause to believe he violated Michael Brown’s civil rights:

It was in this context that Holder made his bizarre visit to St. Louis. Bizarre in the sense that he intervened, in the name of the federal Justice Department, in a case already before a grand jury, without making even a feint at blind justice. The Los Angeles Times reported that Justice Department officials attributed Holder’s concern to “the continuing violence and apparent mishandling of the case by local officials.” Without making any judgment about whether the local officials mishandled the case, it is worth noting that the federal intervention has taken the side of those committing the continuing violence…

Although there have been protests, riots, demonstrations, and uprisings throughout the half-century since Civil Rights legislation was passed, there has been one constant. The government has always been at the side of those seeking to restore public order. Now Obama and Holder have placed the government on the side of the uprising—or, to put it more neutrally, on the side of those who would restore order on the terms demanded by the uprising…

The administration is pursuing a reckless strategy, hoping that it can present the barn-burning Holder as its face to the black community and the conciliatory Obama as its face to the white community, exploiting the very divisions it promises to heal.

It seems unimaginable given the politics of the case and the fact that, as Caldwell notes, Democrats badly need high black turnout to have a fighting chance in the midterms that Wilson won’t be charged at some level. If the state passes on some sort of homicide charge, the feds will try him for something. That was the point of Holder’s visit, I thought: By showing up, he’s all but personally guaranteeing them “justice.” The White House itself has been even more overt about that, telling black leaders and civil rights groups on conference calls that, in WaPo’s words, they’re “determined to see justice achieved” here. What evidence federal justice would be based on is unclear, though. There’s nothing out there right now to suggest that Wilson shot Michael Brown because of his race, which means, says former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, that Holder’s interest in civil rights charges against Wilson is actually a case of racial profiling:

To constitute a civil-rights crime, it is not nearly enough for a violent act to have the “racial overtones” assorted agitators and commentators choosing to frame the case in racial terms contend it does. To justify a federal investigation, the Justice Department must have a rational basis to believe it could prove these invidious and evil purposes beyond a reasonable doubt. That requires compelling evidence, not a farfetched social-justice narrative…

It is a violation of federal law to subject a person to criminal investigation solely on the basis of his race. To prevent such government abuse, to root out institutional racism, is the objective of the civil-rights laws, which hold that a person may not be deprived of his rights and privileges — including due process and equal protection under the law — based on his race…

It is ironic at first blush. Holder, after all, is the self-proclaimed scourge of racial profiling.

It’s a no-lose situation for the White House. If Missouri charges Wilson and gets a conviction, great. Then the DOJ can stand down. If Missouri doesn’t get a conviction, then the feds can charge him. If they somehow get a conviction of Wilson, great. Black voters will be pleased that Obama and Holder delivered justice where the state couldn’t. If they don’t get a conviction, that’s too bad but people can blame the jury for that. Obama and Holder did their part.