With Barack Obama having selected most of his choices for the cabinet and other administrative positions, it is now time for them to be confirmed. Hillary Clinton already faced a pretty easy time at her hearing for Secretary of State. Eric Holder, the possible new attorney general, may have a harder time today.
Eric Holder has been one of the more debated choices to be in Obama’s administration. Holder may be question in his hearing today by Republicans who question his actions as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. Democrats will be anxious to test Holder on whether he would lock up members of the Bush team.
Holder is still expected to be confirmed, but his conformation hearing today will be looked upon as an example of what will be expected under his reign. Holder’s past as Clinton’s deputy attorney general will be under a microscope in the hearing.
Holder has been criticized for his part in the controversial pardon of Mark Rich, during the last days of Bill Clinton’s administration. Republicans have also questioned him for trying to get clemency for Puerto Rican militants, for opposing an investigation into campaign-finance abuse by Clinton’s re-election team, and for his role in the Elian Gonzales case.
Democrats are ready to attack Republicans for drumming up the old Clinton-era debates. However, those same Democrats will also have questions for Holder about what he plans to do about the Bush administration.
One of the big questions surrounding the Obama team as it takes office is whether they will investigate the Bush administration for various charges, or at least, whether they will do it vigorously.
Obama has wanted to move forward from the Bush years, and has been vague about how far he would go in an investigation. Holder, as attorney general, would be a central figure in that debate.
His performance at the conformation hearing would be a signal to Democrats in whether he would vigorously prosecute Bush members, and whether he would reverse many of their policies. The success or failure to do so may define Obama’s Presidency, and define Holder as an attorney general, in the eyes of many people.
Since the Justice Department was charged with being extremely partisan in the Bush years, Holder will be scrutinized for the working atmosphere of the department, and whether it will toe the line of the Obama administration.
New York Times- “Parties Brace for a Fight on Choice of Holder for Justice Department” www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/us/politics/15justice.html
TIME- “Senate Could Grill Holder From Both Sides” www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1871832,00.html