There have been worse members of presidential cabinets than Eric Holder. John B. Floyd and Howell Cobb, both of James Buchanan’s cabinet, who apparently aided the South in the days before secession come to mind.
In my 40 plus years of observing presidencies, though, Holder has a strong claim on first place. His warped attempts to use the national law enforcement apparatus to remake America along leftist lines would have made his tenure an abomination even if it hadn’t been further stained by racism. But racially stained Holder’s tenure was, as Christian Adams reminds us:
[A]fter six years of Holder hugging Al Sharpton, stoking racial division in places like Florida and Ferguson, after suing police and fire departments to impose racial hiring requirements, after refusing to enforce election laws that protect white victims or require voter rolls to be cleaned, after launching harassing litigation against peaceful pro-life protesters, after incident after incident of dishonesty and contempt before Congress — after all this, it was clear to anyone with any intellectual honesty that this man had a vision of the law at odds with the nation’s traditions.
Why would it surprise anyone he behaved as he did? As I made clear in my book Injustice, he carried around a quote in his wallet for 40 years about race that, he explained to the Washington Post, indicated that he had common cause with the black criminal. That’s a fact. That’s who he is. . . .
Eric Holder was a radical progressive who used the power of the federal government to impose his progressivism on the United States. He loved big interventionist government that took sides based on your politics and your race. He was a menace to the rule of law.
Bad cabinet members come and go, but Eric Holder leaves behind a legacy that I believe will haunt the nation for decades. What is that legacy? Again I turn to Adams:
Holder’s tenure represents the beginnings of a post-Constitutional era, where the chief law enforcement officer of the United States serves to dismantle legal traditions. Holder is the first attorney general to whom law seemed to be an option, a suggestion on the way to a progressive future. Most folks, and most lawyers, who didn’t devote daily attention to him might not have noticed the ground shifting during his tenure. But shift it did, and very deliberately.
Law, like liberty, is a tenuous thing. Failing to understand the sources of domestic tranquility, the sources of your relatively good life, usually also means failing to recognize the threats to that pleasant tranquility. Holder used his time at Justice to do things that corrode the rule of law. Law and liberty are precious things, and Holder did enormous damage to both.
Even John B. Floyd and Howell Cobb probably did less damage.