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What price pseudo-centrism?

Eric Holder has come in for considerable criticism from conservatives for his role in the pardon scandal at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term. And properly so. But conservatives have had little to say about substantial allegations of corruption on the part of Hillary Clinton throughout the Clinton presidency.

All but our youngest readers will recall the particulars — Whitewater (which led to the appointment of an independent counsel), cattle futures, and the White House travel office scandal. In fact, Clinton was nearly indicted by Ken Starr’s office for giving testimony inconsistent with what the prosecutors had learned from other key witnesses and that the prosecutors were convinced was false.

Hillary Clinton was also involved with the pardon scandals that may come back to haunt Holder. Her brother Hugh Rodham received $400,000 for working on two pardons, one of which was granted and the other of which resulted in commutation of the sentence. (Hillary claimed that she was unaware of the transaction, and Rodman apparently returned the money). Tony Rodham, another brother, also received financial consideration in connection with another of the Clinton pardons.

Bill Clinton also pardoned the FALN terrorists, pardons that have led to criticism of Holder because federal guidelines were circumvented. But the impetus for the pardons seems to have been Hillary’s race for the Senate, a number of prominent Hispanic politicians from New York having pushed on behalf of the terrorists. Absent such political calculation, it is almost impossible to understand why Bill Clinton would have pardoned this lot, the members of which apparently had not even asked to be pardoned (two of the terrorists refused their pardons). Hillary backed away from the pardons at the last minute, but her fingerprints are on them nonetheless.

Why are we hearing so much criticism of Holder and so little of Clinton? One explanation might be that Holder has been nominated to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and Hillary has not. But this is hardly a satisfactory basis for giving Clinton a pass; having a corrupt Secretary of State is no small matter.

It’s also possible that conservatives are holding their fire because they are reasonably happy with the Clinton nomination for substantive reasons, considering the alternatives. But Clinton is hardly the only mainstream liberal Democrat Obama could have selected, and it’s become clear that Obama has no interest in offering high profile positions like Secretary of State to someone from the far left wing of the party.

In any event, it’s not as if conservatives can block the nomination of Clinton (or, for that matter, of Holder in all likelihood). The point in both cases should be to raise legitimate questions, and the questions about Clinton seem at least as legitimate as those about Holder.

JOHN adds: I think to some degree it’s a case of the devil you know vs. the one you don’t. Most people probably think they are aware of Hillary Clinton’s strengths and weaknesses–although they’ve probably forgotten the details of the cattle futures, the White House travel staff, and so on–and have concluded that they can live with her. Holder is much more of an unknown quantity and therefore riskier; also, one as to whom public opinion is more likely to be influenced.

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