Attorney General Eric Holder made history yesterday. He is the first Cabinet member to be held in criminal and civil contempt of Congress. This vote could have been avoided, if only he had turned over the requested documents. His refusal puts the entire blame for this exercise on his shoulders, and his alone. Holder brought the contempt charges on himself when he chose to ignore the US Congress' legitimate demands for information to which they had every right. His contempt for the US Congress and the American people in this and other matters has now officially been reciprocated. One hundred democrats refused to vote, choosing instead to walk out. Seventeen democrats not only stayed to vote, but crossed the aisle and voted to hold Holder in criminal contempt. Twenty-one democrats voted to hold him in civil contempt.
Of course former Speaker Nancy Pelosi was decrying the political nature of the vote, and other democrats lamented the end of democracy as we know it. You know, the usual hysteria. I won't bother to link, I'm sure you've already heard it ad nauseum.
The most important thing to come out of yesterday's vote could only happen if he was found in contempt: press coverage. It is a priceless commodity for a story like this, and one the media has most definitely been rationing. I'd love to know who's brilliant idea it was to hold the vote on the same day as the Obamacare decision. Anyone could guess that, no matter which way the ruling went, it would suck all the oxygen out of the pressroom for at least a few days. It's a no-brainer that it would have been better to hold the comtempt vote next week, after the media had worked every possible angle on the Obamacare decision and was hungry for something new.
The lapdog press have been desperate to ignore or underplay this scandal, but a contempt vote makes it something people want answers about. Adding in the walkout should normally up the media profile (they just love liberal indignation, don' t they?) , but everything is being drowned out by the Obamacare ruling. As usual, the Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Holder's comtempt vote, historic though it might be, isn't the type of history legacy media outlets like ABC, NBC or even CNN want to talk about in the first place. Giving them the cover of the Obamacare ruling to once again sweep OF&F under the rug is nothing short of idiotic.
This story deserves press, and a lot of it. It's a sure bet that if more than 2,000 guns had been given to Mexican drug cartels under Bush, resulting in the deaths of not just 300 Mexicans, but also a US Border Patrol agent and an ICE agent, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to hand over pertinent documentation to Nancy Pelosi, the press would be howling for not just contempt charges, but a deeper investigation into White House involvement and, of course, renewed calls for impeachment.
The fact is, blood has been shed in a gunwalking operation that never planned on tracking the guns. The fact is, the DoJ admitted that information they had provided to congress about the operation was false. The fact is, any way you slice it, this is a scandal.
It's hard to image that Watergate, which is the gold standard for governmental scandal, was basically about people breaking into campaign headquarters. The cover-up is what brought down the administration. It's rather ironic that the week we observed the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, President Obama inserted himself into the Operation Fast & Furious scandal by attempting to shield Holder with executive privilege.
Watergate was the gold standard in scandals, and yet, unlike OF&F, nobody died.
Is it front page news? Are there calls for more information, more transparency, more outrage over hundreds of deaths at federal hands? No. Nothing. The Terry family deserve answers, as does the Zapata family, the families of slain Mexicans and the Mexican government. If Holder had just handed over the documents, this contempt vote never would have happened. He brought it on himself.
The left is arguing that the whole investigation is nothing more than election year politics. They're so desperate about this story that that irritatingly smug hack over at CNN, Soledad O'Brien, is actually trying to argue that there wasn't even any gun running! Congressman Mica actually laughs out loud at her spin at one point. Never mind that head of the DoJ's criminal division, Lanny Breuer, admitted that guns were walked over the border. I guess when you are sitting in a corner with your fingers in your ears, rocking back and forth and self-soothing with the repeated chant of "there was no gun running, there was no gun running", it would be hard to hear the assistant AG's testimony.
The interesting thing about the nothing-more-than-politicking argument is the reaction of proponents of that line of thinking when they discover that more than 300 people - so far; considering many of the guns have not been recovered, more deaths are likely - have died as a direct result of this operation. Even members of the Daily Kos seem to be taken aback by it. The media blackout has been effective. But the thing is, once they hear the truth, their ideas about Holder and the claims of politicization tend to change. People really sit up and take notice when they are told that our government willfully and knowingly sold high-powered weapons to Mexican drug cartels. And the question that always, always comes next is, why?
This is why the New Media is so important. More and more people are eschewing the corrupt, biased, mainstream, legacy media and getting their information online. Getting the information out, rebutting the claims of politicization with the facts of more than three hundred dead - so far - is imperative. The press knows there is no spinning this thing effectively, so they have decided the best bet is to ignore it. Their feet must be held to the fire, as should those members of congress who refuse to see past politics to the human cost of this operation. It's quite a commentary that democrats in congress can't even remember Brian Terry's name. Contact your representative, demand answers on Fast and Furious. Demand the administration uphold its claims of transparency and release the documents. Urge your friends to do the same. This is just too important to be swept under the rug.
As for the practicalities of what happens now, well, it's sort of a stalemate at this point. The criminal contempt is toothless, as his case would then be referred to the DoJ for them to decide what charges to file. It's a pretty safe bet they'll decide not to press charges, don't you think? The civil contempt is a different story, however. His contempt ruling can now be used to sue him in federal court to force him to relinquish the documents. The only problem with that is the length of time it takes for court cases to wind their way through the system. The only shot the republicans had at getting any traction on this was through press coverage. And, as usual, they screwed it up.
With any luck, Mitt Romney will make justice for the Terry and Zapata families a campaign issue. I'm not holding my breath, though. Democrats have labeled this a partisan witch hunt, and you know how wobbly those RINOs get when their liberal counterparts make a pronouncement about something. Perhaps he could segue over to this the next time immigration comes up - "If the President is so concerned about the welfare of Mexican citizens, perhaps he should demand more answers from Attorney General Holder on the deadly gun walking operation known as Fast and Furious, instead of running interference for him." Oh, if only....