Eric Holder may be the most reviled attorney general in the history of the country — even more despised than one of his idols, Bobby Kennedy, whom most Southerners couldn’t stand.
He certainly has been scorned much more than that rascal John Mitchell ever was. And Mitchell, attorney general under President Richard Nixon, was convicted and sent to prison.
At every opportunity they could find, Republicans on Capitol Hill have criticized Holder and tried their best to demean and embarrass him. But much like the president who nominated him for the job, Holder has taken their rejection in stride, brushing off their insolent behavior like lint from a navy blue suit.
The attorney general’s announcement last month that he was resigning after six years on the job was met with great jubilation by his harshest critics.
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One would think that those who hate him so much, particularly those in the Senate who will have a chance to confirm his replacement, would move quickly to vote on the president’s nominee to succeed Holder: Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
After all, Holder has vowed to stay until his successor is confirmed. The longer the Senate takes to get that done, the longer Holder stays in the job.
There are some in this do-nothing Congress who would like to see it remain that way through this lame-duck session, and begin anew next year when Republicans control both Houses.
But there is no reason to delay the confirmation of Lynch, whose exceptional legal career and personal back story make her uniquely qualified to be the next attorney general.
As the president said in announcing her nomination, Lynch is not one who sets out to make headlines but has consistently distinguished herself throughout her 30-year career “as a tough, fair and independent lawyer.”
The president noted that Lynch, through her prosecutions, has fought terrorism, cybercrime, drug lords, mobsters and public corruption, bringing cases against politicians of both parties.
At the same time, Obama said, she has vigorously defended civil rights, much like Holder.
A native of Greensboro, N.C., Lynch is the daughter of a preacher who opened his church for civil-rights meetings, and her mother picked cotton while in high school, according to The New York Times. Her great-grandfather was a sharecropper who helped black people escape the injustices of the South, and her great-great-grandfather, a free black man from North Carolina, went back into slavery to marry the slave woman he loved.
As the first African-American female U.S. attorney general, one might expect her to take up some of the same issues as Holder, which include protecting voting rights.
Of course, the very thought of her emulating Holder in the slightest would be repulsive to those in Congress who are eager to see him out of office.
Because she has already been confirmed twice by the Senate for her current job, it would seem that her nomination ought to breeze through.
But it is difficult to predict what Republicans in the Senate will do since their main goal for the last six years has been to oppose anything and anybody supported by Obama.