It seems that our Senator from Pennsylvania is intent on dragging out the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Designate Eric Holder well into the spring, based on this New York Times story today, which tells us that…
Mr. Specter raised questions about Mr. Holder’s role as deputy attorney general on a range of issues that included an investigation into the 1993 federal siege in Waco, Tex., that left David Koresh and about 80 of his Branch Davidian followers dead, and an espionage investigation involving a nuclear scientist, Wen Ho Lee.
But he saved his sharpest criticism for Mr. Holder’s role as deputy attorney general in three controversies in Mr. Clinton’s second term: Mr. Clinton’s pardon of (fugitive financier Marc) Rich in 2001, the president’s decision in 1999 to grant clemency to 16 members of a Puerto Rican militant nationalist group, and the Justice Department’s rejection in 1997 of an independent counsel to examine accusations of campaign finance abuse by Vice President Al Gore and the White House. In each case, Mr. Specter said, Mr. Holder appeared to go against the advice of career professionals at the Justice Department.
Geez, Arlen, you mean you’re NOT going to try and find a way to blame Holder for returning Elian Gonzalez to Cuba also? You’re slipping!
And after this is concluded, I’m sure Specter also will press for hearings into the “real” death of Kurt Cobain, as well as the “murder” of Vince Foster.
To say that all of this is pointless is an understatement; the only one of these “controversies” that I care remotely about is the Rich fiasco, which I posted about here.
And I’ll be curious to see exactly how far Specter goes with his little inquisition on Holder; as Bob Geiger notes here, Our Man Arlen did a lot of yapping about former Bushco AG Abu Gonzales, but didn’t do a whole hell of a lot to try and persuade the Repug Senate “leadership” at the time that Gonzales should go (and Chris Durang of HuffPo notes here that Specter didn’t even put Gonzales under oath when he testified; let’s see if he tries that little trick when Holder visits “the Hill”).
Also in the matter of Specter on a separate issue (FISA), we have a clip from Jack Cafferty here which states in fairly blunt language how our senator buckled on the surveillance issue the same way he did on Gonzales.
Finally, I’d like to remind Specter and the Repugs that, in 2001 when the Dems were the minority party, they chose not to filibuster the confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General even though the Repugs didn’t have the now-traditional “60 votes needed for passage” (here). Though I don’t expect the Repugs to return the favor on Holder if he gets less than 60 now that they’re the minority party, I just thought I’d remind them anyway.
I sincerely hope Chris Matthews is paying attention to all this (still can’t quite get used to him as the party standard bearer against Specter, but there you are).
Update 1: Looks like Grassley wants to play with Arlen too on the Holder nomination based on this (and kudos to Leahy for using Ass-Croft to slap them down).
Update 2: Also looks like Matthews is out (oh noes!!! – I think; hmmm…).
Update 3 1/8/09: What BarbinMD sez here…
Update 4 1/12/09: More of Arlen’s particular brand of hypocrisy here (h/t Atrios)