Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marc Rich? Is That It?

It is clear that the Obama administration has placed its ducks in order. Floating Eric Holder as the pick for Attorney General would have been an awful idea during the campaign. He is clearly retro and a key player in major controversies of the Clinton administration - the administration Obama condemned so loudly. The story-line, during the campaign, had to be "No way. Not interested. Not doing it."

But, now, the campaign which promised "change" and a "new tone in Washington" is over, and Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general is right back in the cue. NPR's Nina Totenberg reported this morning that the Obama team "consulted" with "key" Republican Senators to see if they would dare require a serious vetting process for the first African American nominated to the position of Attorney General. Of course, only a few surrenders were necessary, as the Democrats will have plenty of seats in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the template for the nomination, and eventual confirmation, is already carved in stone. The first African-American nominated (did we mention that?) for Attorney General will be lauded for his marvelous "credentials" and undeniable "experience." At best, he will be questioned casually - if not apologetically - about his relationship to the Marc Rich pardon. Holder will continue to play the naive, confused victim of Bill Clinton's last-minute scandals who was just too busy to think out everything very well (see Holder's testimony before Congress). All of the talk about prosecutorial and judicial experience will vanish into a cloud of sympathy for a helpless, decent, nice, classy guy who just happened to be in the wrong position in the wrong administration. The first African American nominee for Attorney General will be confirmed. Dissenters will be made to look like bitter losers and/or Clinton-haters, if not racists.

What is this stupid fascination with Marc Rich anyway? Was he the first fugitive pardoned? No. Was he the first wealthy guy pardoned? Of course not! Was he the first controversial last-minute pardon? No. Then, why? Why can't the media (and intelligent Senators) look past Marc Rich and see, among other things, Holder's role in the FALN pardons? or his role in the pardon of drug king-pin Carlos Vignali? Why will no one even bother to ask Holder why the pardon process all but dried-up during his tenure as deputy attorney general - despite dramatic increases in our prison population and a surge in clemency applications?

In part, the Republicans are to blame. They overplayed their hand. Constantly stinging from the Nixon pardon, they made every effort to declare Rich the recipient of the new "most controversial pardon" They failed. And in doing so, they left two dozen other controversies unattended. As for the media, it is simple. March Rich is a tie to the Clintons (always good for news drama) and the former Mrs. Rich is photogenic (or, some say). Lord knows images are important to the media.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online