Raynard Jackson January 15, 2009 Once again Republicans are showing how tone deaf this party really is. This time, the stupidity is emanating from the United States senate. President-elect Obama has nominated Eric Holder to be the next United States Attorney General. He will be the first Black Attorney General in our country’s history. Holder has served as a former Superior Court judge of the District of Columbia (appointed by, guess who? That pillar of liberalism—President Ronald Reagan). He also served as U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC and Deputy Attorney General (both under President Clinton). Thus, he has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate on several occasions. Out of all of Obama’s cabinet nominees, the party chooses a Black person to pick a fight with. Are Republicans being racist? Of course not, but the perception sure doesn’t look good. Especially with their well document past with the Black community, this is just a fight they don’t need. The person leading the charge against Holder is none other than Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter. He is considered a liberal Republican and is anathema to conservatives. But, in a preemptive reelection move (2010), he is attempting to shore up his right flank. There have been persistent rumors that Specter may face another primary challenge from his right (four years ago he was challenged by former Congressman Pat Toomey—who only lost by a few thousand votes). If Specter can eliminate this threat, he is most likely to win reelection. So, in order to boost his political fortunes, Specter is willing to alienate the Black community. Here is his plan. Specter wants to revisit the Marc Rich pardon. Rich was convicted in abstentia of tax fraud and making illegal oil deals with Iran. Holder indicated to President Clinton that he was “neutral, leaning toward” favorable regarding recommending a pardon (this was in 1999 but the pardon was not issued until January 20, 2001, a few hours before Clinton left office). Now, let’s give the distinguished Senator from PA a simple law lesson. The President is granted the power to pardon by the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2: “the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” Typically, applications for pardons are referred for review and non-binding recommendation by the Office of the Pardon Attorney, an official of the Department of Justice. So, even if Holder had vociferously opposed the pardon, the President has absolute authority to act. Holder’s role was strictly advisory and Specter knows this. According to the Politico newspaper, Specter and his fellow Republican senators also want to question Holder on his purported support of clemency for the members of the convicted terrorist group (FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation). None of these jailed members were convicted of bombings or crimes which injured others. They were convicted of conspiracies to commit robbery, bomb making, sedition and firearms & explosives violations. Senate Republicans also want to relive the Elian Gonzalez and Branch Davidian controversies (Waco). According to them, they are concerned about whether Holder can be independent from a President Obama. I wish Republicans had shown the same amount of aggressive enthusiasm regarding “independence” when it came to the Bush administration and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This is my central complaint with the Republican Party. You have our first Black president nominating the first Black to be Attorney General and that’s the one nominee the Republicans choose to fight over. Do Republicans not see the perception problem with this strategy? Wouldn’t a more appropriate person to go after these issues on be Sen. Hillary Clinton? She not only was the wife of President Clinton, but was intimately involved in some of these controversial issues Republicans now want to relive through Holder’s nomination. Senator Clinton sailed through her confirmation hearing earlier this week without so much as a raised voice directed towards her. But, the highest ranking Black nominee has to explain why he didn’t attempt to stop a sitting President from exercising an absolute power that cannot be stopped. The party’s actions speak so loud that I can’t hear a damned thing they are saying! So, once again Black Republicans are put in the position of trying to explain to our community why Republicans are hostile towards us. So, even when we play by the rules, it always seems there is one more hurdle yet to overcome. No serious person questions Holder’s qualifications for the job. Just look at some of the Republicans who have publically stated their support for him: Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security advisor, former Senator John Warner, Senator Orrin Hatch, former Rep. Bob Barr, former U.S. attorney Joseph E. diGenova, former deputy attorney general James Comey, former attorney general William Barr, former solicitor general Theodore B. Olsen, and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson (who served under G.W. Bush. He also is a Black Republican. Why is this the only Black Republican to publically support Holder’s nomination?) Eric Holder will and should be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. His credentials are unquestionably exemplary and he definitely has the right temperament for the job. Republicans in general and Arlen Specter in particular should stop using Holder’s nomination to score political points with the right wing. Republicans continue to alienate the Black community with many of their actions and the Holder nomination is just the latest example. If the Republican Party continues downs this path, that won’t be the only thing that will be confirmed! Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. You can reach him at: Raynard@raynardjackson.com and website at: www.raynardjackson.com
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