Overcoming “Mr. Snuffleupagus Republicanism” in the Fast and Furious investigation

Republican leaders in the House are moving cautiously towards requiring Attorney General Holder to produce documents relevant to the investigation of DOJ’s “Fast and Furious” program, or else be held in contempt of Congress. Previously, Holder was to face a Memorial Day deadline for coughing up the documents. Now, a letter sent to Holder last Friday gives him until mid-June.

Moreover, the scope of the documents demanded has been scaled back. Previously, a draft contempt resolution had insisted on the production of 22 sets of documents. But according to Politico, the latest letter demands just two sets: all communication after Feb. 4, 2011, when DOJ indisputably misled Congress on the Fast and Furious program, and information disclosing who planned the operation.

A normal litigant with nothing to hide would not balk at this scaled-down request. Indeed, after having been shown to have misled, a normal litigant with nothing to hide would be anxious to produce information as a show of good faith. And we should expect more from the nation’s Attorney General than from an ordinary litigant.

But, of course, a normal litigant cannot risk alienating a judge. Holder isn’t dealing with a judge; he’s merely dealing with Congress. Hence, his contempt.

If Holder continues on this course, Congress has no meaningful alternative to issuing the contempt citation and bringing the matter before a judge.

Astonishingly, though, some Republicans in leadership positions are said to be wary of forcing the issue, considering that both the Attorney General and the President are Black. One Republican aide said this would be especially problematic “after Trayvon.”

Let me understand. Because Trayvon Martin (excuse me for using his last name; I can’t quite put him in the same class as Michael, Magic, and Kobe) was shot and killed during some sort of altercation, the Attorney General of the United States gets to obstruct an investigation into a scandalous policy that resulted in countless deaths, including that of an American law enforcement officer? Maybe conservatives really should call it quits on politics and cultivate their gardens.

As Sarah Palin put it last night, in a memorable line on Sean Hannity’s program, some Republican operatives “seem to have the fighting instinct of Mr. Snuffleupagus.”

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