Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eric Holder, Emersonian -- UPDATE, Wrong Man of Letters, Sir

UPDATE:  Oops -- I got confused. It was Emerson, but rather poet Thomas Gray who offered the lines "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Shouldn't really blog before I've had my coffee.

The great 19th Century American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson offered many brilliant observations, including this one, which is sometimes misunderstood, "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

As it turns out, "where" turns out to be the Justice Department, where ignorance is a growth industry, as newly minted skeptic Dana Milbank notes:
As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder is privy to all kinds of sensitive information. But he seems to be proud of how little he knows.

Why didn’t his Justice Department inform the Associated Press, as the law requires, before pawing through reporters’ phone records?

“I do not know,” the attorney general told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon, “why that was or was not done. I simply don’t have a factual basis to answer that question.”

Why didn’t the DOJ seek the AP’s cooperation, as the law also requires, before issuing subpoenas?

“I don’t know what happened there,” Holder replied. “I was recused from the case.”

Why, asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), was the whole matter handled in a manner that appears “contrary to the law and standard procedure”?

“I don’t have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked, because I was recused,” the attorney general said.
This didn't pass Milbank's smell test:
In a sense, the two topics that dogged Holder most on Wednesday — the AP phone records and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups — were one and the same. In both cases, Americans are being punished and intimidated for exercising their right of free expression — by the taxing authorities, in the conservatives’ case, and by federal prosecutors, in the reporters’ case.

I believe the term we're looking for here is "abuse of power."

Now it's hard to blame Holder for taking the Emersonian Gray stance here. Given what we already know about how things go in the Justice Department, it would be better for Holder not to have first-hand knowledge of how his underlings are behaving.


Anonymous said...

Speaking on behalf of Rich, I assure you that your imagination is getting the best of you because you're a conservative rube.


Mr. D said...

I'm sure that's it.