Texas Senator John Cornyn wasted no time with U.S. Attorney General designate Loretta Lynch. He asked her point-blank, "How are you going to be different from Eric Holder?" It was not a question. It was a demand. Lynch gave him the requisite answer, "I am not Eric Holder." That won't be enough.
The instant President Obama nominated Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Lynch to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a core of leading GOP senators and conservative political action groups flatly said they'd do everything possible to block Lynch's confirmation if she didn't make it absolutely clear publicly that she would not be another Holder.
Her public mea culpa meant that Lynch would have to virtually repudiate every position and action that Holder took as Attorney General. The checklist included abandoning continued tough enforcement of what's left of the Voting Rights Act, few or no probes into police abuse and misconduct cases, a blind eye toward vigorous IRS enforcement of provisions to prevent blatant manipulation of the tax laws by right-wing political groups, rejection of Obama's amnesty policies, and adopt a compliant role with GOP congressional representatives. Above all, the GOP's butcher bill for a Lynch confirmation is that she must pledge not to utter a peep about racism and racial iniquities.
Anti-Lynch conservative activist groups covered their outrageous demand for a virtual public disavowal by her of Holder by tossing in a red herring. They claim that Lynch has such a cozy relationship with fat cat Wall Street financiers that she blocked a settlement to victims in a stock fraud scheme.
Lynch has no illusions that anything less than a total distancing from Holder will stall, if not derail, her confirmation. She will say all the right things on police-community relations, making nice with GOP congressional committees, and playing it close to the vest on enforcement of civil rights abuse cases.
The fact that she's forced to play the role of the Holder antithesis says less about Lynch than it does about the ruthless determination of GOP congressional leaders to purge any and all residue of Holder's effective, and much need activist tenure as Attorney General from political life. Holder was piteously hounded every second during his years as Justice Department head. This was no accident. He became the softest of soft target in the GOP's no-holds-barred campaign to hamstring Obama with the odor of scandal and in effect straightjacket his presidency. The race part was even more insidious. Holder meant what he said that the nation had marched backward for every step it went forward in dealing with racial bias. He backed up his words with repeated actions on voting rights abuses, grotesque racially skewed sentencing disparities, and defense of gay rights. This was crowned by his rush to St. Louis following the slaying of Michael Brown and putting dozens of FBI and Justice Department attorney's boots on the ground there with the strong hint that a civil rights prosecution could be in the offing if there was no state prosecution of Ferguson cop Darren Wilson for the killing of Brown. This sent the professional Holder-baiters into a tizzy and again the shouts were long and loud for his head.
Holder didn't buckle. He even doubled down again on his blast at racism, noting on several occasions that he, as Michael Brown and countless other young black males, had been profiled by police once as a law student and later as a federal prosecutor. To add even more to the GOP and Holder-baiters' vitriol, he had the audacity to make the claim and the revelation of his personal experience with racial profiling in a keynote speech before Al Sharpton's National Action Network convention in 2013.
The proof of Holder's effectiveness was the backhand perverse compliment the Holder-baiters paid him in their euphoria over his resignation. They dredged up all the old distortions, myths, and lies about him in their rush to maliciously tar him as "the worst attorney general" the nation ever had. This spoke volumes how Holder was able to get under their skin to the point where they had to shout in glee at his departure.
Holder left a solid legacy of accomplishment in the areas that have been and continue to be the greatest flashpoints of public controversy, namely civil rights, and racial justice and fairness.
This is exactly what drove the GOP to hector, harass, hamstring, and ultimately try to railroad Holder out of office during his years at the Justice Department. Their worst nightmare was that Obama would pick another AG candidate in the mold of Holder. That was never likely to happen given the continual carping and infighting that the Obama administration had to suffer through with the GOP in its low intensity war against Holder. But GOP Senate leaders took no chances and doubled down on Lynch before and during her Senate testimony. She will be confirmed. But be advised that won't end the GOP's hawk like watch to insure there is no deviation by Lynch from their anti-Holder playbook. They'll still hold her hostage to Holder.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson