The ObamaCare debate may have overshadowed much of the Obama administration during the last couple of months, but not enough for Eric Holder to escape notice. The White House prepares its decision to overrule Holder on his decision to try the 9/11 plotters in federal court, which has prompted speculation about his future as Attorney General. Now Agence France-Presse is starting to wonder when he’ll find a reason to spend more time with his family:
But the final straw for Holder may be the increasing distance between him and Obama on national security issues.
The White House has relented on its original insistence to prosecute five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks before a civilian court in New York City.
Strongly defended by Holder, the plan was intended in part as a symbolic gesture to showcase how differently Obama dealt with the prickly subject than his predecessor.
Holder has refused to back away from the plan even as reports suggest the White House will agree to prosecute the five men before a military court in return for Republican support for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
“I think if the president overrules him on what should be done with the detainees, I think he should resign,” Yale Law School professor Eugene Fidell told AFP.
Fidell puts a resignation in terms of principle, which even Fidell acknowledges is a rare event in Washington. Usually resignations get demanded by the boss, and then cast as a personal choice — the ubiquitous “spend more time with the family” excuse. Those resignations occur when the executive loses faith in the Cabinet member, or when the Cabinet member’s decisions become a political liability.
Has Holder become a political liability to Barack Obama? If so, then it is only because Holder carried Obama’s water on this issue. The decision to move Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the federal court was foreshadowed by two years of Obama’s presidential campaigning, and almost a year of Obama’s rhetoric from the White House. If anything, the decision by the White House to shove all the blame onto Holder by claiming it had no participation in it should create a lack of confidence in Obama for Holder, not the other way around. The White House left him twisting in the wind for the last two months, and everyone knows it.
None of this is particularly new, of course. It’s at least somewhat interesting that media outlets have begun speculating and asking about Holder in terms of his immediate future. If this starts snowballing, it may have at its source some signaling from the White House that Holder needs to go. Why Holder hasn’t concluded that on his own is somewhat mystifying, unless he enjoys being made to look like a fool.