pageok
pageok
pageok
Eric Holder Reportedly Tapped for Attorney General:
Newsweek is reporting that Eric Holder has been picked to be Obama's nominee for Attorney General. This is a very good pick, I think: Holder was my favorite of the folks who had been mentioned as being on the short list. Holder was the Deputy AG back when I was at DOJ during Clinton's second term, and my impression at the time was that he was smart and professional. A very good choice, I think.
Katyal (mail):
Orin,

Why haven't I heard anything about Professor Katyal for SG? Or do you see him as possible Assistant AG?
11.18.2008 3:55pm
Pardon the interruption:
This is great, we can get a rehashing (and possibly an explanation) of the Clinton end-of-term pardon scandals, specifically the Marc Rich pardon, during Holder's confirmation hearings.
11.18.2008 4:08pm
krs:
The Marc Rich pardon annoys me to no end, but I would hate to see the Republicans launch into opposition-party grandstanding mode over this.

The Rich pardon was either a mistake or a reflection on Bill Clinton's character. I don't think it should stand in the way of a competent AG candidate. I don't think "no mistakes that his enemies could find" is a good criterion for choosing AGs.

Based on his resume, he seems like a solid pick. I hope he gets little more than a few questions about the Rich issue.
11.18.2008 4:15pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Back in September, someone from a Dem-linked PR firm tried to start a viral video containing a lie about Palin. And, apparently they were monitoring transmissions and pulled the video shortly after it was revealed by other blogs as coming from them. After I posted on it, I got a visit from an IP belonging to Holder's firm. That was apparently about a half an hour after I got linked by memeorandum and well after several spiders had visited the page, so they could just have been keeping up with the story. Or, there might be something else involved.
11.18.2008 4:16pm
OrinKerr:
24AheadDotCom,

What might that something else be? Are you thinking that you were visited by space aliens who have come to invade the planet earth?
11.18.2008 4:20pm
A Law Dawg:
What might that something else be? Are you thinking that you were visited by space aliens who have come to invade the planet earth?


Perhaps they have 24 eyes a head.
11.18.2008 4:22pm
Pardon the interruption:
If the media would bother to actually look into the history of this, the outrage over the Rich pardon was not limited to Republicans. The Democrats were just as mystified and disturbed by it, so I wouldn't call it "Republican grandstanding." Holder was at the center of it. If he can explain it at his confirmation hearings, I'd be glad to hear it. It will be swell to revisit his dealings with the Clinton era "Chinagate," etc...
11.18.2008 4:24pm
Anony:
24AheadDotCom:


an IP belonging to Holder's firm.


Would that be Covington &Burling, a Vault 10 firm with over 600 attorneys and countless staff? Hardly shows any involvement by Holder. This reminds me of the "controversy" surrounding "Jack Abramoff's law firm," in which mainstream media would link anything related to the behemoth that is Greenberg Traurig to the Abramoff corruption investigation.
11.18.2008 4:31pm
Gonzo (mail):
This pick won't do much to salve the nerves of the 2nd amendment enthusiasts. The run on guns will continue, I think, with this pick.
11.18.2008 4:41pm
Railroad Gin:
The main thing I remember about Holder is that he was one one of Reno's main spin doctors when it came to covering up whatever happened at Waco.
11.18.2008 4:43pm
OrinKerr:
Elim,

I served for 2 years under Eric Holder, and I never felt that he was "politicized" or in any way at all corrupt. I think his nomination is a helpful step towards a more apolitical Justice Department.
11.18.2008 4:43pm
Joe - Dallas (mail):
Wasnt Holder the assistant Attorney General for civil rights during the clinton administration and involved with several dubious employment affirmative action cases?

Will someone with better recollection with his time in the Clinton administration provide some insight.
11.18.2008 4:48pm
OrinKerr:
Elim,

I don't know him personally: Deputy AG's don't hang out with GS-12s. And of course the Marc Rich pardon is fair game for discussion at the confirmation hearing. But you're just conjuring up a version of events, which seems rather strange given your apparent interest in getting to the truth.
11.18.2008 4:55pm
hawkins:
a corrupt pardon
11.18.2008 4:58pm
hawkins:

a corrupt pardon


How exactly was the pardon corrupt?
11.18.2008 4:59pm
rarango (mail):
It appears to me the notion of "depoliticizing" what has to be the most politically sensitive federal agency is hopeless romanticism. I am sure there may be some lawyers in DC who arent "political," but I do have my doubts. I am of the general opinion that the President should get who he wants short of, perhaps, the Governor Edwards test (live boys/dead girls)
11.18.2008 5:00pm
Aultimer:

elim:
hasn't the mantra been "must de-politicize Justice"? how, exactly, will having an AG who is a corrupt holdover from the Clinton era accomplish that?

It's very sad that the distinction between government and politics has been blurred (eliminated?) so far. Curse you Lee Atwater.

If DOJ hires or acts with an eye toward elections (where elections aren't the particular subject matter), then it's being "political". What in heaven does being a "corrupt holdover" have to do with politics?
11.18.2008 5:09pm
Ugh (mail):
Oh yes yes yes, the Rich Pardon! Please bring that up, I would love to get Scooter Libby back in the news.
11.18.2008 5:11pm
24AheadDotCom's post about the video (mail) (www):
Cute comments above. Space aliens, imagine that!

However, the post I linked to (under my name's link) linked to this from someone else.

The suspicion was that the BHO campaign was using the PR firm as a front to spread lies about Palin. See, that's the key part: the BHO campaign could have been engaging in dirty politics while keeping their hands clean. BTW: BHO's chief strategist owns an "astroturfing" firm, and he had worked with the PR firm several years before.

And, as I said above, the people behind the video were clearly monitoring sites like the one linked above, since they quickly pulled videos and the like. And, I wondered whether someone working for Holder's firm was involved in some way in that effort.
11.18.2008 5:11pm
Constantin:
Oh yes yes yes, the Rich Pardon! Please bring that up, I would love to get Scooter Libby back in the news.

Who is going to care about Scooter Libby two months (and a few days) from today? What will that have to do with anything? BDS surely will have run its course by Holder's confirmation hearings, I hope.
11.18.2008 5:14pm
Sarcastro (www):
Constantin is right. Liberals will stip irrationally hating Bush the moment he leaves office just like Conservatives stopped hating Clinton in 2001.
11.18.2008 5:15pm
Tmack (mail):
Orrin what are Eric's views of the second amendment?
What does he think of the McCain-Feingold incumbancy protection/gut the first amendment act?
Who did he support Heller or DC?
Thank you
11.18.2008 5:24pm
A Law Dawg:
Who did he support Heller or DC?


I believe he signed on to the pro-DC amicus.
11.18.2008 5:27pm
wm13:
My favorite part is this quote from Holder's testimony:

"Essentially what I was trying to say, what I tried to convey, was that I didn't have a basis to make a determination; again, assuming that what Mr. Quinn said — I mean, you're accurate, I did not reflexively say that I was opposed to this because he was a fugitive, having had that experience with I guess Mr. Preston King, who was a fugitive and who ultimately was granted a pardon that I supported."

He makes Sarah Palin sound like Demosthenes. No doubt Charles Fried or someone of that ilk will explain why Holder is a genius and Palin is an idiot.
11.18.2008 5:29pm
Anderson (mail):
a corrupt pardon

I have a plausible suspicion that the GOP is going to be in a VERY poor position to point fingers about "corrupt pardons" after Bush goes through two or three pens signing pardons on January 19, 2009.
11.18.2008 5:30pm
Nunzio:
Another Washington insider. Great. Obama's cabinet is basically taking the junior varsity squad from Bill Clinton's cabinet and promoting them.

I thought Obama was for change.
11.18.2008 5:30pm
Nunzio:
Anderson,

W. will do it on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, like his dad. I expect George Ryan and Ted Stevens, probably a full-blown Libby pardon, and he'll throw in a Democrat for good measure.
11.18.2008 5:33pm
MisterBigTop:
I'm glad he's smart and qualified, but geez, this is change?
11.18.2008 5:35pm
David Warner:
A Team of Urkels
11.18.2008 5:35pm
Tmack (mail):
Orrin, if Holder supported DC in Heller vs DC and can you say he is a good pick to be AG?
He obviously doesn't understand what the second amendment means, and when you think how simple it is, one can safely conclude there is a lot of law he doesn't understand.
I am not a lawyer but it is pretty obvious that the standards to be one have fallen greatly in the last twenty years.
11.18.2008 5:38pm
Karan Singh (mail):
TMack:

Holder signed the pro-DC amicus brief from "former DOJ officials."

Former DOJ Officials brief

Further conspiracy theories may be generated from the fact that counsel of record for the brief was from Holder's law firm (Covington).
11.18.2008 5:40pm
Libertarian1 (mail):
Sarcastro:

Constantin is right. Liberals will stop irrationally hating Bush the moment he leaves office just like Conservatives stopped hating Clinton in 2001.



You defend the Democrats in 2008 because of 2001 actions by Republicans. But somehow you conveniently forget the Democrats still manically pursue the evil of Richard Nixon, 34 years later. At no time was the Republican irrational hatred for Bill (who to me is actually getting better with the passage of time) anywhere near the magnitude the Dems have for Nixon and W. Supposedly, it is the elephant who never forgets.
11.18.2008 5:41pm
Per Son:
I still need someone to explain how pardons can be corrupt. They are an absolute presidential power. We may disagree with some pardons (for me that goes for Nixon, Rich, and Libby), but they are not corrupt.
11.18.2008 5:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
I still need someone to explain how pardons can be corrupt. They are an absolute presidential power.

Absolute power can never be corrupt? I think you have that backwards.
11.18.2008 5:48pm
Redman:
Change we can believe in.

(giggle)
11.18.2008 5:49pm
Per Son:
Cornellian:

I guess in a theoretical or philosophical sense they can be immoral and what not, but how can something that is 100% legal be corrupt in any sort of legal sense (unless I am being too legalistic).
11.18.2008 5:50pm
Pardon the interruption:
And why shouldn't Sandy Berger be named back into his old position at the NSA. He seems like a nice enough guy, and boy is he smart!
11.18.2008 5:54pm
OrinKerr:
Tmack,

I believe Holder had the same view of the Second Amendment as Justice Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg. I don't agree with it, but then I would expect an AG pick in a Democratic administration to have shared that view (whether it is Holder or someone else).
11.18.2008 5:58pm
calmom:
It's just the good old boys all over again. There are excellent lawyers outside the DC beltway you know.
11.18.2008 6:00pm
Sarcastro (www):

Democrats still manically pursue the evil of Richard Nixon

I know I have real trouble getting liberals to stop talking about Nixon these days! The Nixon-bashing industry is booming these days! Books! Movies! Radio shows!

[You're right about my tu-quoque fallacy though. BDS is as wrong as ODS is.]
11.18.2008 6:05pm
hawkins:

He obviously doesn't understand what the second amendment means, and when you think how simple it is, one can safely conclude there is a lot of law he doesn't understand.

...I am not a lawyer...


Four justices apparently dont understand the "simple" meaning of the second amendment.
11.18.2008 6:11pm
hawkins:

It's just the good old boys all over again. There are excellent lawyers outside the DC beltway you know.


Sure there are, but not too many qualified to be Attorney General
11.18.2008 6:12pm
Tmack (mail):
"Four justices apparently dont understand the "simple" meaning of the second amendment." and Holder.
That is right, they don't. They are wrong, you see, even supreme court justices can be wrong.
If you can read, then read the second amendment and then the DC law and it is OBVIOUS that the DC law violated the second amendment.
It is you lawyers who try to make the law more complicated then it is for your own benefit, financial and otherwise.
One of these days it will also get your throats cut.

BTW: Albert Jay Knock wrote that a great majority of the people don't know how to read at all.
The supreme court four and Holder and anyone who believes that the second amendment doesn't recognize an individual don't know how to read.
11.18.2008 6:48pm
J Richardson:

I believe Holder had the same view of the Second Amendment as Justice Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg. I don't agree with it, but then I would expect an AG pick in a Democratic administration to have shared that view (whether it is Holder or someone else).


While Holder may have the same view of the 2nd Amendment, he also will control BATFE and that scares the hell out me. It should never have been switched from the Treasury Dept.
11.18.2008 6:59pm
Snark:
Looks like Obama is trying to become the first Black Clinton. Every Obama selection seems to be a Clinton throwback. Hopenchange = same old song.
11.18.2008 7:01pm
Steagles:
ORIN SAID:

Elim,

I served for 2 years under Eric Holder, and I never felt that he was "politicized" or in any way at all corrupt. I think his nomination is a helpful step towards a more apolitical Justice Department.

_________

Orin:

Regrettably, we're entering era of Obama-hate-syndrome. There will be little this man does that some who comment here will ever approve.

I accept your views on Holder, especially since they are based on personal experience, as opposed to news paper stories.

Cheers.
11.18.2008 7:09pm
Constantin:
That Obama has picked an AG whose views on the Heller are 180 degrees from those Obama voiced after the opinion tells me one of two things:

(1) Obama was lying about supporting the decision or
(2) The Second Amendment is quite low on Obama's list of important legal issues to be dealt with by his Justice Dept.
11.18.2008 7:29pm
Constantin:
EDIT:

(2)Protecting the Second Amendment rights is quite low on Obama's list of important legal issues to be dealt with by his Justice Dept.
11.18.2008 7:30pm
Kharn (mail):
Steagles:
Orin's experience might be personal, but Eric Holder's well known for his vehemently anti-gun actions over numerous points in his career, it doesnt bring a lot of positive feelings on a blog that has many libertarian/conservative readers.
11.18.2008 7:41pm
Nunzio:
Anyone have any people they think would be a better AG than Holder that Obama could plausibly nominate?

In defense of Obama, I'm quite confident that Holder will be better than Ashcroft and Gonzales though this is faint praise I suppose.
11.18.2008 7:41pm
jackson:
I worked with Holder on a couple of matters at DOJ. He is fair and thoughtful. He will enforce the law. He prosecuted Marion Berry and, as I recall, Dan Rostenkowski as USA for DC. He also prosecuted Jenrette. Those are very, very good non-partisan credentials.
11.18.2008 7:47pm
taney71:
Well Reno was Clinton's third pick so I think Obama had backups.
11.18.2008 7:49pm
David Larsomn (mail):
"Cornellian:

I guess in a theoretical or philosophical sense they can be immoral and what not, but how can something that is 100% legal be corrupt in any sort of legal sense (unless I am being too legalistic)."

Dude, a Congresscritter voting on a proposed law is 100% legal. If he does it as a quid pro quo for a payment of $10,000, its corrupt. Pretty simple, no?
11.18.2008 7:49pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"The Second Amendment is quite low on Obama's list of important legal issues to be dealt with by his Justice Dept."


As it should be.

I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment, and I think the Heller Court got it right, but I can think of about a dozen vastly more pressing matters the DOJ has to deal with right now.
11.18.2008 7:57pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"a team of Urkels"


The only thing Obama, Holder and, um, "Urkel" have in common is they are intelligent black males.

So, do all intelligent black males deserve derision, in your view? If not, perhaps you can explain this comment.
11.18.2008 7:59pm
Kevin O'Brien (mail):
I am somewhat reassured by Orin's personal experience with this man, who's always struck me from news stories as a typically greasy Washington insider.

The Rich pardon and the other pardons-for-cash of the Clinton era are, for better or worse, par for the course in DC. A good working assumption is that they're all crooks and all decisions are made for personal gain. Maybe they're not, but that working assumption does explain their behavior and results as well as any other.

As far as Holder's record as a gun-banner, well, Obama's entire record says he's an alpha gun-banner, despite some of his typical evasions during the campaign; it was inevitable that his fellow AG would be a gun-banner like him. In this case, it's unfortunate that Obama has selected a competent man like Holder and not a shambling incompetent like Janet Reno or Alberto Gonzales.
11.18.2008 8:03pm
OrinKerr:
I'm with Mahan Atma: what is the "Team of Urkels" reference supposed to mean?
11.18.2008 8:11pm
frankcross (mail):
Tmack, a little humility, plese. It is not at all obvious. People vastly more knowledgeable than you, I expect, think it is a difficult question. They include people like J. Harvey Wilkerson and Richard Posner, neither of whom would be ideologically liberal. Heller may be right but it's not obvious.
11.18.2008 9:02pm
Tmack (mail):
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds. Tmack, if you would like to comment here, keep it civil.]
11.18.2008 9:22pm
Tmack (mail):
and are I mean "or are,"
11.18.2008 9:29pm
David Warner:
OK,

"I'm with Mahan Atma: what is the "Team of Urkels" reference supposed to mean?"

Merely an offbeat sense of humor. As something of an Urkel myself, it was a twist on Team of Rivals offered with no little affection.
11.18.2008 10:03pm
OrinKerr:
Got it -- thanks, David.
11.18.2008 10:16pm
Per Son:
David Larsomn:

You said:

"Dude, a Congresscritter voting on a proposed law is 100% legal. If he does it as a quid pro quo for a payment of $10,000, its corrupt. Pretty simple, no?"

Yes, but how does that translate to the pardon power? It is illegal (or at least against House rules) to take money for votes - in a quid pro quo fashion. The pardon power is different. I guess my point is about illegality - and in that sense - a pardon can never be illegal - no matter what.
11.18.2008 10:21pm
Per Son:
I am curious about Holder, maybe some of you all can respond. What is Holder's track record when it comes to civil rights litigation, litigation involving the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments?

What is his prosecution record, including the types of cases, and high profile trials?

Something other than the 2nd Amendment.
11.18.2008 10:26pm
traveler496:
wm13:

My favorite part is this quote from Holder's testimony:

"Essentially what I was trying to say, what I tried to convey, was that I didn't have a basis to make a determination; again, assuming that what Mr. Quinn said — I mean, you're accurate, I did not reflexively say that I was opposed to this because he was a fugitive, having had that experience with I guess Mr. Preston King, who was a fugitive and who ultimately was granted a pardon that I supported."

He makes Sarah Palin sound like Demosthenes. No doubt Charles Fried or someone of that ilk will explain why Holder is a genius and Palin is an idiot.


Jeez Louise wm13, is that the best you can do when quoting from (my guess) a lengthy transcript of adversarial grilling? I mean, it actually makes sense: Holder's saying that "his" [Rich's?] fugitive status alone was insufficent for Holder to decide [whether Rich deserved a pardon?], and that this was due at least in part to an earlier case in which Holder ultimately judged another person (King) to be worthy of a pardon despite his fugitive status. It's a bit rambling, and you may well disagree w/ his approach, but as it makes total sense on 2nd reading the statement is pretty low on the incoherence scale IMHO.

And now my ulterior motive for responding: Can anyone please please point me to samples of extemporaneous speech by (first and foremost) Ronald Reagan during his presidency, and (secondarily) by any other American president? I am asking because Reagan struck me as a particularly incoherent speaker when his words weren't scripted - such a contrast w/ his reputation as the Great Communicator. I'm open to any of a number of explanations for this contrast, but I need more data and have been unable to find it. In particular, after maybe a dozen hours of web searches over the years, I haven't been able to locate a single transcript of extemporaneous speech by Reagan as president. Is this stuff hard to find or am I just paticularly inept?-)
11.18.2008 10:30pm
Brian K (mail):
Something other than the 2nd Amendment.

you must not have gotten that memo. none of the others are important.
11.18.2008 10:33pm
elim:
{Deleted by OK. Elim, your repeated obnoxious and nasty comments, combined with bizarre mischaracterizations of what others are saying, are not appreciated. You are banned from commenting here.]
11.18.2008 10:57pm
Tom Tildrum:
The Clinton administration, of course, used Guantanamo as a gulag for Haitian refugees, holding them indefinitely without access to counsel, habeas corpus, or asylum, and the Clinton Justice Department successfully defended that policy in court. I don't know that Holder ever participated in the decision-making around that policy, but he certainly never opposed it.

Presumably, however, Holder's confirmation hearings will not raise the slightest whisper of this Clinton-era policy.
11.18.2008 11:36pm
MarkField (mail):

I don't know that Holder ever participated in the decision-making around that policy, but he certainly never opposed it.


How would you know what position Holder or any other government employee took internally?
11.18.2008 11:54pm
MarkField (mail):
Oh, and the policy of sending Haitian refugees to Guantanamo began under Reagan and continued under Bush I and Clinton. Is it your position that everyone in the Justice Department in those Administrations is somehow responsible?


the Clinton Justice Department successfully defended that policy in court.


Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Clinton Administration lost that court case and shut down Gitmo for refugees as a result.
11.19.2008 12:04am
zippypinhead:
Long ago and far away, I also worked under Eric Holder when he was DAG, and also had some intra-agency coordination and case approval dealings directly with him when he was U.S. Attorney. In this pinhead's opinion, he's far and away the best pick from the lists of likely A.G. candidates that I've seen circulating. Generally viewed as fair, intelligent, and interested in getting to the right result rather than the biggest headline. While I never sat across the table from him when he was at Covington, I heard thru the grapevine that he continued to be well-regarded as a straight shooter after he went to the defense side.

And he's not a political hack -- he spent the first 12 years of legal practice as a career prosecutor in DOJ's Public Integrity Section. That's one of the highest-profile shops in DOJ's Criminal Division, and by reputation he was very good, in a tenure that spanned most of both the Carter and Reagan administrations.

I strongly suspect that his appointment will finish filling in the morale black hole among DOJ prosecutors that was dug by Gonzalez and his henchmen (and women, e.g., Goodling).

Did Holder get sloppy with the Mark Rich paperwork at the last minute as he was packing to leave? Yup... but at least he was honest enough to admit he screwed up. Did he get the Second Amendment analysis wrong in Heller? Sure... but he was far from the only one, and since the POTUS-elect apparently agrees with him, that isn't exactly a disqualifying policy position nowadays.
11.19.2008 12:16am
David Warner:
Mahan,

"The only thing Obama, Holder and, um, "Urkel" have in common is they are intelligent black males. So, do all intelligent black males deserve derision, in your view?*"

Um, you left out one other salient feature of this team. The chief of staff is an Orthodox ballet dancer from Sarah Lawrence, for G-d's sake! His first name means "Read Only Memory" in Hebrew. We're nearing nerd critical mass here - the singularity's so close I can taste it.

It was the much under-appreciated nerd demographic that elected Obama, and now we're getting paid. Bout damn time.


* - so should racist and derisive motives be read into all posts, in your view?
11.19.2008 1:32am
Tom Tildrum:
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Clinton Administration lost that court case and shut down Gitmo for refugees as a result.

No, the 11th Circuit overturned that decision, and the S.Ct. denied cert. I was part of the losing side in that litigation. They shut down Gitmo because they won; because they didn't have to allow the Haitians to apply for asylum or other relief, they were free to return them to Haiti. (You may also be thinking of a separate, slightly earlier District Court decision that allowed entry by a small sub-group of HIV-positive Haitian refugees).

But my memory was wrong as well. Gorelick was DAG then, not Holder, so it's not fair of me to hang that policy on him. He has said recently that indefinite detention at Guanatanamo by the Bush administration was wrong, and good for him. Presumably he also believes that it was wrong when Clinton did it, but I'd just really like to hear him say it.

I guess it's just my old frustration resurfacing; it's been galling, for instance, to watch Reno criticizing Bush's indefinite detention at Gitmo without ever having to answer for the Haitians.
11.19.2008 1:51am
rarango (mail):
Clarification please? There are some references to Libby--I was not aware that Libby was pardoned, only that his sentence was commuted. Is my understanding correct?

And for those raising the issue of pardons, may I suggest we wait and see what President Bush actually DOES as compared to what some commenters think he MIGHT do? For those blessed with such foresight, there is a fortune to be made in commodities.
11.19.2008 6:28am
hawkins:

Clarification please? There are some references to Libby--I was not aware that Libby was pardoned, only that his sentence was commuted. Is my understanding correct?


Yes, Libby is yet to be pardoned. Other references were to Libby's role in securing Rich's pardon.
11.19.2008 7:48am
JosephSlater (mail):
I think the repeated mocking of this pick as not representing "change" rather misses the point of what the electorate wanted to change from.
11.19.2008 9:15am
jps:
To echo JosephSlater, the complaint about this not representin change is ludicrous; if Obama picked someone who had no affiliation with the Clinton-era Justice department, he would either be a) a Republican or b) mocked as unqualified. I mean, I guess he could have found someone from the Carter era??
11.19.2008 10:36am
MarkField (mail):
Tom Tildrum: Fair enough.
11.19.2008 10:49am
wm13:
jps, I would have to disagree. I'm sure there are a number of federal judges and people in private practice (i.e., litigators with reasonably strong Democratic affiliations) whom Obama could appoint. In other words, Democratic equivalents of Michael Mukasey. I'm not saying that such a person would be better than Holder, of whom I know little, but I'm sure such people exist.

I gather Obama and Holder are personal friends. I think it is a mistake for a president to appoint a friend as attorney general, and that Obama would be better served by someone more independent. But time will tell.
11.19.2008 12:03pm
hawkins:

I'm sure there are a number of federal judges and people in private practice (i.e., litigators with reasonably strong Democratic affiliations) whom Obama could appoint.


Isnt it at least somewhat beneficial to appoint someone who previously served at a senior level in DOJ?
11.19.2008 12:07pm
Bad (mail) (www):
"Isnt it at least somewhat beneficial to appoint someone who previously served at a senior level in DOJ?"

You don't quite understand: to his detractors, "change" means that Obama has to appoint Rush Limbaugh to high posts, instead of changing things up by appointing extremely competent and talented people first and foremost.

As I see it, change is change from the Mayberry Machiavellianism of the Bush administration. But that doesn't mean that there aren't people and examples from the past that we can change back to. Hell, the first Bush's administration was mostly staffed by talented, respectable conservatives. Going back to that principle of good government over partisan hackery would be a huge change in how things are run.
11.19.2008 12:59pm
wm13:
Gee, Bad, I hadn't realized that "bringing us together" involved characterizing Michael Mukasey as a Mayberry Machiavelli or a partisan hack, but suit yourself.
11.19.2008 1:10pm
Pnin:
That's the great thing about an empty slogan like "Change", people read into whatever they want to believe in. During the primaries, Obama's "Change" was to away from the Clintons. Now, people like "Bad" see "Change" as a change back to Clinton's appointees. Tomorrow, "Change" will mean keeping the status quo in Iraq.
11.19.2008 1:54pm
jps:
wml13; Mukasey served in the Nixon/Ford Justice department. Most left-leaning Judges with any criminal experience served in the Clinton or Carter Justice departments.

Holder was not a "personal friend" of Obama anymore than anyone else who supported his candidacy- I believe the first time they met was when Obama was running for the Democratic nomination.

Holder is in private practice now, and it would be irresponsible to appoint a lawyer in private practice who had not been involved in federal prosecution at some level.
11.19.2008 2:18pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

I think the repeated mocking of this pick as not representing "change" rather misses the point of what the electorate wanted to change from.


You are being disingenous. O campaigned on changing the old Washington way of thinking. Not merely on a change from the Bush Administration. That is the kind of change that happens whenever the party in the White House changes. He promised a totally different type of change, a new way of governing.

Bringing back Clinton appointees and retreads like Tom Daschle to HHS is just business as usual. So, mocking is appropriate.

These appointments don't bother me. He got elected and can bring in whoever he wants. Just don't pretend they are "change" in any way. Not only Clinton but any of the other failed Dem candidates in 2008 could have just as easily apointed Holder.
11.19.2008 2:24pm
Lighten up Kansas:
you guys are hilarious if you think Americans care about cabinet appointments. If you ask someone to name more than State, Defense, and the now=popular Treasury, you are kidding yourselves about Clinton retreads as some sort of real problem. Obama was never trying to placate the whiny wonks anyways...and thank God for that.
11.19.2008 2:53pm
wm13:
"Mukasey served in the Nixon/Ford Justice department. Most left-leaning Judges with any criminal experience served in the Clinton or Carter Justice departments."

jps, I don't think this is a major issue, but people at the level that Mukasey worked (assistant US attorney when he was just out of law school) aren't normally considered part of the administration. People take those jobs regardless of whether their party affiliation matches that of the president. (I don't presume that Prof. Kerr considered himself part of the Clinton administration.) My point is that there are doubtless qualified lawyers, including people who served at junior levels in the Justice Department, who have not been part of any previous administration. Having said that, I don't have any strong feelings about Holder, of whom I know very little.
11.19.2008 3:04pm