Obama’s Cabinet: One Bad Choice

Clearly, we aren’t done with identity politics yet.

Tom’s reactions to Obama’s cabinet picks are pretty typical of much of the informed punditry, and rightly so.  Clinton is a good choice for State, Gates at Defense, Daschle at Health, Jones at NSA.  Obama is taking his job as President-Elect seriously, and he will be surrounded by very smart and capable people.

So that ‘he’s black’ is the first thing that is mentioned in this list about potential Attorney General Eric Holder is, I think, telling of the emptiness of the choice.

Holder is a solid choice, yielding the first African-American AG. If you’re going to pull off any additional “first” of this sort, that’s about the coolest, most symbolic place to do it. I always liked Holder under Clinton. He seems very much in no-drama-Obama mold.

For now, Obama’s picks strike me as encouraging (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).

Sadly, Holder’s support for censoring the internet and deporting refugees back to Communist states makes me doubt the wisdom of Holder’s nomination.  That is, both as an advocate for laws and an enforcer of laws, Eric Holder has sided against freedom and for authoriarian control.

Unlike Obama’s other picks, Eric Holder is a disaster in the making.  Consider this exchange, after police in riot gear took Elian Gonzales from his home in America, to send him back to Cuba

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS JUDICIAL ANALYST: Isn’t it clear in that — in that Court of Appeals ruling, preliminary though it may be, that the court ruled that the INS may not do exactly what it did this morning, which is without a court order change the guardian of this child?

When is the last time a boy, a child, was taken at the point of a gun without an order by a judge? Unprecedented in American history.

HOLDER: He was not taken at the point of a gun.

Holder is either incompetent, or a liar.  He either did not know of the most famos picture of the entire Elian Gonzales affair, or he hoped by denying it he could make it go away.

Unlike Biden, Clinton, Gates, Jones, Daschle, etc., etc., Holder is a bad pick and a disaster in the making.  Eric Holder should not be Obama’s choice to head the Department of Justice.

21 thoughts on “Obama’s Cabinet: One Bad Choice”

  1. “Eric Holder has sided against freedom and for authoriarian control.”

    As opposed to a previous Attorney General who was named….. ?

  2. Holder is also causing a particular uproar with RKBA supporters considering Holder’s gun control statements and his work with Janet Reno in the 90s.

  3. The Weekly Standard praises Obama’s foreign policy choices [1], but notes both the run on guns Eric Holder as a potential AG [2]. These last two may be related.

    If Obama is using the AG spot to reward a political constituency with such a terrible choice, it may be because he simply does not see crime as a priority [3] (that is, he sees foreign policy and the economy as bigger priorities). If this is true, it both makes sense for Obama not to care who becomes AG, and for people to arm themselves if they live in potentially high-crime areas.

    [1] http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/11/is_progressive_foreign_policy.asp
    [2] http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/11/a_run_on_guns_just_in_time_for.asp
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/04/24/obama-and-urban-coin.html

  4. I heard Eugene Robinson on Meet the Press this weekend, spreading the idea that Eric Holder might create an investigatory commission into Gitmo, etc.

    Certainly this will be popular among the Daily Kos crowd, but criminalizing defense work is a very dangerous step. The Church Committee was a disaster for the CIA [1], and the harm that did was far greater than whatever specific benefits were achieved.

    Then of course there is the Frank Rich business…

    Obama has generally been handling the transition very well. But by doing so well on the economy, he’s clearly letting law & order issues slide. While most of his picks are very admirable, Obama picking Holder sounds like it’s out of a freeper satire, not the news…

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Committee

  5. I think I like Napolitano for the same reason that Covert Radio does not… she supports comprehensive immigration reform [1]:

    Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s likely nomination for Homeland Security secretary is a strong sign Barack Obama’s administration will get serious about comprehensive immigration reform.

    Napolitano hails from a border state that knows well the benefits and the burdens of a large illegal work force. She has a flinty law enforcement background as a former U.S. attorney but her pragmatic side had her vetoing anti-immigration legislation that would have had local officers enforcing federal immigration law.

    In recent years, her frustration with federal inaction on immigration reform has hit the national news.

    In 2005, she and neighboring Gov. Bill Richardson from New Mexico each declared a “state of emergency” on portions of their respective state’s borders with Mexico. That action freed state money to help local governments deal with growing crime problems.

    If, like Daschle, Napolitano will be used to push department-relevent issues through Congress, then she may be a very strong pick.

    [1] http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/edcetera/2008/11/21/gov_janet_napolitanos_sophisti.html

  6. The other claims against her seemed to be a litany of complaints that she is not an expert in this-or-that office or bureau within DHS, which of course is not the point of a cabinet official during a time when the executive is focused on passing his legislative agenda.

  7. Reading Tom’s post…I get the impression that he think of high gun ownershiop as anegative indicator…lookout for the violent Americans!

    I think of it a positive indicator: taking responsibility for personal safety and security and a sketicism of GOV.

    Now Tom I don’t think Tom is a small gov sort of guy, so he might see skepticism of GOV as a bad thing.

    I don’t.

    And I don’t own a gun, BTW. Not yet, anyways.

  8. I support the prosecution of the White House lawyers who knowingly gave bad legal advice supported by terribly flimsy legal arguments for any violations of American law with regards to torture and destruction of evidence.

    John Yoo, David Addington, etc. should be in a cell, not some CIA guy who was given the legal go-ahead by them. If the lawyer tells you its legal, its not your fault that that lawyer was unqualified and not chosen for his skill but for his ideology.

    Conservative legal scholars such as Jack Goldsmith as well as the uniformed JAG officers and legal counsels for the FBI, NSA, etc. are the source of my criticism here, not some left-wing rag like the Nation or Daily Kos.

  9. Eddie does not realize that the criminalization of policy is more appropriate to oriental quasi-democracies like Taiwan [1] than in serious government.

    If Eddie believes that every lawyer should come to the same conclusion on every case, he is likewise confused as to the nature of our Anglo-Saxon legal system.


    The Nation‘s criticism — that Geithner is too much like Summers — sounds like an endorsment to me! 🙂

    Good news on Gates, obviously.



    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/11/11/bad-news-from-taiwan.html

  10. A policy that ignores the Constitution and is predicated on getting around existing laws as much as possible is not a policy worth defending in a democracy. That’s why Ted Olson, our nation’s Solicitor General, a fierce conservative lawyer and a man who lost his wife in one of the planes on 9/11, resigned from the Bush Administration in response to the infantile, poorly supported legal memos being written by John Yoo.

    He surmised (as did others) there was no conceivable way you could successfully argue such incoherent legal fantasy in front of the Supreme Court, and he was right.

    The Bush Admin lost every detainee rights case, provoking even Justice Scalia in Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld to say “Congress has not given the president the power to hold any American, even one who has taken up arms against his country, as an enemy combatant and instead must present criminal charges or let him go.”

    This wasn’t just bad advice the lawyers gave, it was bad legal scholarship. It was offered with malice to enable the President to skirt laws and ignore others. That’s not a democracy, that’s something far worse.

  11. Eddie,

    A policy that ignores the Constitution …

    There is an ocean of difference between “Ignores” and “interprets in a way that you disagree with.” Indeed, confusing the two expressions seems childish. Indeed, when someone joins a discussion on applied philosophy (which is what our Anglo-Saxon system is) by demanding those who disagree with him (on the job, at least) be jailed, makes it hard to believe that such a person joined the conversation with good intentions.

    That’s why Ted Olson, our nation’s Solicitor General, a fierce conservative lawyer..

    You can use ‘conservative’ as an incantation as much as you want… it does not serve to back up your claims.

    Flipping the ad hominem or genetic fallacies on their head does not make them any less fallacious.

    On the subject of picks generally, catch this from TPM Cafe [1]…

    [Robert Gates poured] cold water on the idea of ever achieving a world free of nuclear weapons (an Obama campaign pledge).

    Not only did Obama not appoint a democratic (or at least an openly pro-Democratic Republican, like Chuck Hagel) to SecDef, but Obama may even break his campaign pledge to rid of the world of nuclear weapons?

    Who can believe this???

    heh 😉

    [1] http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/11/26/gates_at_defense_pros_and_cons/#more

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