Holder Next?

The news this morning is full of speculation about Eric Holder, one of three individuals selected by Barack Obama to conduct his vice-presidential selection process. One, Jim Johnson, is already gone. Holder is an obvious target because of his role in the pardon of convicted fugitive, Marc Rich, which was indeed one of the Clinton administration’s most disreputable actions.

This morning’s Washington Post is typical, with an article titled “Next on the GOP List: Eric Holder:”

Like sharks sensing blood in the water, conservatives who helped press the case against James A. Johnson, formerly the head of Barack Obama’s vice presidential vetting committee, are bearing down on their next target: former deputy attorney general Eric Holder.

You think the author, Jonathan Weisman, might be a Democrat?

Holder is a legitimate target because of the Rich affair, I guess, but frankly I have little or no interest in who helps Obama choose a V-P. What bothers me most about these battles is the implicit assumption by some that just about any involvement in the business world is somehow suspect. Consider these observations from the same Post piece:

“Will Obama Vet Holder?” goaded the RNC this morning.

“Eric Holder (Covington & Burling) is defending UBS Financial Services in a discriminatory employment practices matter against African Americans,” an e-mailed missive from a freelancer warned this morning, not mentioning Phil Gramm, a senior executive at UBS and top John McCain adviser.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is trying to scare up some sharks of its own. The target is John McCain’s lead VP vetter, Arthur Culvahouse, a prominent Republican lawyer who has lobbied for Johnson’s former company, Fannie Mae. His law firm, O’Melveny & Myers, has served an array of power players, from Exxon Mobil to the former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling.

Another target is Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard and a McCain economic spokeswoman, who received a $21 million severance package from HP, including “mortgage assistance” totaling $650,000.

This is frankly stupid. Covington & Burling and O’Melveny & Myers are top-notch law firms that have represented a vast array of clients. The idea that there is something wrong with associations with companies like UBS, Exxon Mobil and Hewlitt Packard is absurd. If any connection with a top law firm or a large corporation is somehow taken as a black mark, pretty soon those who advise our Presidential candidates, or serve in their administrations, will be as inexperienced as, say, Barack Obama himself. That would be a sad outcome.

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