True, the first contempt of Congress vote against any of the 82 Attorneys General in our nation's history will also happen to occur against the first black Attorney General in our nation's history. True that throughout the entire history of conflict between the Attorney General and the opposition party in control of Congress, the first time such conflict rises to the level of a contempt vote also happens to be the first time the Attorney General is black. To be sure, the republican party has a half-century history of both ham-handed pandering to racists as well as enthusiastic race-fueled attacks against black public officials. For reasonable people to connect an unprecedented political attack against a public official to the unprecedented status of that official's presence in office should not be a surprise.
But I think such a connection is largely coincidental.
History will chronicle the naked ambition of the most dangerously and disgustingly self-serving group of political opportunists ever to darken the doorstep of Congress. From the very beginning of the Obama presidency, the republican congressional caucus has placed their return to power highest by far above all other priorities, far higher than what should be the number one priority of serving the near-term and long-term interests of the American people. The republican minority leader of the Senate said so himself and for those of us too disengaged, too deluded or too addled to simply take his word for it, perhaps we should let their actions inform us. The republican congressional caucus has brought the Nation to the brink of financial default and worldwide capital markets to the brink of financial armageddon - again. Senate republicans have broken their own record for filibuster of legislation and have blocked record numbers of appointees. Republicans have consistently voted against legislation based on policies that they were in favor of previously. After running for office with a message of "jobs, jobs, jobs", the republican caucus has produced nothing, nothing, nothing that could possibly be viewed by anyone with a brain as job-creating. Instead, they have devoted the bulk of their efforts toward dictating women's healthcare decisions. To be sure, the republican congressional caucus has confirmed that the GOP is indeed the party of no.
No useful ideas.
No principled engagement.
I would not be surprised if historians view this Congress - and particularly it's republican caucus - as the most useless, the most shameless, the least productive and simply the worst congress in American history. They would certainly get my vote. But Americans - and black Americans in particular - are best served assessing Congress' disgraceful vote against the copious record of republican mendacity, blind obstructionism and nation-damaging self interest and asking themselves a basic question:
Would the republican caucus attempt to hold the Attorney General in contempt if that Attorney General were as white as the previous 81 Attorneys General throughout American history?
I think the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Remember, they impeached President Clinton for lying about oral sex.
To be sure, republican control of Congress has been bad for America and this certainly isn't the first nor will it be the last time that what is bad for America is absolutely disastrous for communities of color. In this case Attorney General Holder represents one line of defense against the nationwide republican effort to disenfranchise black voters and he has rightly challenged the efforts of Florida republicans to purge lawful voters from the rolls. Conservative columnist George Will intimated that the attacks on the Attorney General are in part driven by Mr. Holder's temerity in protecting the rights of all Americans to vote. Of course republicans are comfortable standing against certain citizens' right to vote. Thus, while republicans may not be attacking Attorney General Holder because he is black, they once again give black Americans more reason (as if any more were needed) to view them with healthy contempt and disdain.
If Congress once again embarrasses America by voting Attorney General Holder in contempt of their kangaroo court, NRA-driven, partisan witch hunt over Fast and Furious, it won't be because Mr. Holder is black. They will do so because it is what their special interest masters want them to do and they hope to lever such rank and cynical opportunism into electoral victory in November. I'm certain that republicans would do the same thing to a white Attorney General. We as black people should keep our collective eyes on the prize by making sure that every eligible voter in our communities across the country is registered in spite of Voter ID and other efforts at disenfranchisement. We must make sure that everyone who wants to vote has the ability to vote and the opportunity to vote this fall. We should be working with other communities in broad coalition to remove John Boehner from the Speaker's chair. We should be working to marginalize Mitch McConnell by removing the ability of republicans to filibuster the President's agenda. We should be sending Mitt Romney his "homes" or to wherever his Swiss bank accounts dictate he should live.