Obama’s Attorney General Pick Gets Mixed Reception

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As we wrote yesterday, Obama has apparently picked Eric Holder, one of his veep vetters and a former deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, for attorney general. Holder is black, which would be a first for the Cabinet position, and rocks a mustache, which isn't a historical first, but certainly can't hurt his prospects. But what could harm him are the concerns coming from both the right and the left — most notably, Holder's role in facilitating the infamous Marc Rich pardon. Of course, anyone who's spent more than twenty minutes in the halls of Washington has done something they regret, and Holder brings what many consider to be the type of experience and judgment that the Justice Department desperately needs.

• Jennifer Rubin wonders "why this person, who participated in a notorious Clinton scandal and himself seemed so oblivious to his own conflict of interest, would be chosen." Based on this selection and Obama's past associations, one must question whether Obama "possesses the judgment necessary to run an effective and scandal-free administration." [Pajamas Media]

• Chuck Todd and friends don't expect too much resistance from the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee over the Marc Rich pardon. After all, they may also be confirming an actual Clinton (Hillary), and if it isn't an issue for her, "it probably won't be for Holder." Plus, if the "GOP had a problem with Holder during the VP selection process — when Holder headed that up for Obama — it didn’t really show it." And on the plus side, Holder is "a career Justice guy with experience as a US attorney," which may make him "a welcome nomination [for] some Justice careerists." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Michael Tomasky reminds us that in these confirmation hearings "they have to go through this insane vetting process" where something small but "disqualifying" is sometimes discovered. It's "safe to say" that the Marc Rich episode will come up. [Guardian UK]

• Steve Benen proclaims, "Everything I know of Holder is positive," and he doesn't think we should "pay any mind" to Marc Rich. Holder is "universally respected and as a former deputy AG, knows a bit about how the Justice Department is supposed to work." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Marc Ambinder says Holder is "known in political circles for one thing" — the Marc Rich pardon — "but he's very well respected by his colleagues in the legal profession." Still, he should have "one of the more interesting confirmation hearings." [Atlantic]

• John Nichols is troubled by Holder's desire to stifle dissent around the time that the Patriot Act was signed into law. He also played a role getting Chiquita "off the hook for paying protection money to right-wing death squads in Colombia." [State of Change/Nation]

• The editors of the National Review believe tapping Holder confirms that Obama's presidency will "mean a return to the September 10 mentality, a national-security outlook marked prominently by its lack of seriousness about the terrorist threat." [National Review]

• Glenn Greenwald believes, "with a couple of ultimately marginal exceptions, that this appointment would be a very positive step." Holder seems to possess "actual passion and conviction" on human rights and the rule of law, and his "views on the core principles of executive power and the Justice Department" are "encouraging." [Salon]

• Jason Tuohey suspects that, based on his past statements, Holder "may aim to roll back several of the Bush administration's most controversial legal moves." [Political Intelligence/Boston Globe]

• Spencer Ackerman approves of the "many progressive notes about terrorism-related issues" that Holder has voiced. But an early "progressive test" will be whether he investigates "the Bush administration’s still-secret abuses." [Washington Independent]

• Jim Geraghty says Holder probably shouldn't even have been vetting V.P.s for Obama, and yet we now "contemplate him in a position of even greater power and responsibility." [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Jake Tapper remembers the time when Holder held Janet Reno as she wept. [Political Punch/ABC News]