Since when did Eric Holder and David Axelrod become … Republicans? This fun exchange between two Obama administration officials took place over the weekend but is clearly worth a backward glance or two. In a segment with Axelrod on CNN’s Axe Files, the former attorney general scoffed at the near-universal position adopted by Democratic presidential candidates for decriminalizing illegal border crossings.
“I don’t think that’s right,” Holder responded when asked about making illegal crossings a civil rather than criminal offense:
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 15, 2019
“The emphasis there was on people who had criminal records, people who posed a danger, a public safety risk,” Holder, who served under former President Obama, said of the previous administration’s policy in a CNN interview released Saturday.
“Democrats have to understand that … borders mean something,” he added.
Holder expressed disagreement with a proposal embraced by some Democratic presidential candidates to make illegally entering the U.S. a civil offense rather than a criminal offense.
“No, I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “The law that is on the books has been there for about 100 years or so.”
“It might send the wrong signal. But it would certainly take a tool away from the Justice Department that it might to use,” Holder added.
All this prompts an urgent question: Who will be the first Democratic presidential contender to call Holder a racist? My money’s on Julián Castro, but Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke might be a close second. All kidding aside, when people speculated that Holder might run for office himself, they assumed he would run as the progressive’s progressive. Suddenly, even Eric Holder thinks Democrats have lost their minds on open borders. And so does David Axelrod, apparently, although Axe has always been more pragmatic than ideological.
Holder’s not doing this to launch a late-hour run for the nomination, so it’s clear that he and Axelrod want to warn their fellow Democrats to pull it back. Might this be aimed most particularly at former fellow White House alum Joe Biden? The veep has been sounding pretty radical on borders lately — and pretty confused, too, claiming that his administration didn’t lock people in cages when they very much did so. If anyone should be defending border enforcement, it should be the supposedly moderate candidate, who instead seems intent on proving himself more extreme than Bernie Sanders and more hip than Pete Buttigieg.
Whatever the aim, the message is clear. When Eric Holder tells Democrats that their border policy positions are insane, maybe they should listen up.