Even we were shocked when we researched our new book, “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department,” at the extent to which Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has politicized the Justice Department and put the interests of left-wing ideology and his political party ahead of the fair and impartial administration of justice. However, there is no doubt that the American public has also recognized just how politically corrupt Mr. Holder is, given this month’s very embarrassing poll conducted by Hart Research for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.
The poll asked respondents their opinions about 10 different national political officials, ranging from Bill Clinton to President Obama to Eric Holder, as well as the Democratic and Republican parties. They were given choices of very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, very negative and “don’t know the name.” About a third of respondents didn’t know who Mr. Holder is (37 percent). However, those Americans who knew Mr. Holder gave him the second-lowest “positive” rating of anyone or any organization on the survey at a mere 15 percent. Only Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio had a lower “positive” rating than Mr. Holder. The attorney general’s “positive” rating was less than half of the positive rating of the Republican Party and 27 points behind that of his boss, Mr. Obama, who was rated favorably by only 42 percent of respondents.
Mr. Holder’s combined “negative” rating of 32 percent was higher than that of Mr. Clinton, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sheriff Arpaio and Sen. Rand Paul. In fact, the poll balanced the total positive feelings survey participants had against the total negative feelings to figure out what the participants as a whole thought of each of the politicians in the poll. Mr. Holder, at 17 points, had the highest negative gap of any individual in the survey — only the Tea Party had a higher negativity gap at 23 points.
Contrary to what liberal elites think, the average American isn’t dumb and can see when someone is abusing his office and allowing politics to drive his decision-making. They may think they can fool the American people, but that is a mistake that many arrogant politicians and government officials have made in the past, and Mr. Holder is just another in a long line of such government officials. From his misbehavior in everything from the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case to Operation Fast and Furious to the IRS targeting scandal, Mr. Holder has shown the public why he is the first and only attorney general in our history to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives.
As a longtime, current employee of the Justice Department told us, Mr. Holder and his subordinates have “racialized and radicalized” the department “to the point of corruption.” They have “embedded politically leftist extremists in the career ranks who have an agenda that does not comport with equal protection or the rule of law; who believe that the ends justify the means; and who behave unprofessionally and unethically. Their policy is to intimidate and threaten employees who do not agree with their politics, and even moderate Democrats have left the department, because they were treated as enemies by administration officials and their lackeys. Another black employee who has worked for the Justice Department for decades said to me, ‘There is no justice left in Justice under this administration.’”
As this poll demonstrates, the American people recognize that Mr. Holder is an ideologue who considers himself part of Mr. Obama’s political team first and the attorney general a very distant second. His first loyalty has been to helping the president break, bend, ignore or fail to enforce the law, doing untold damage to our constitutional system and the rule of law.
As former Justice Department prosecutor Andy McCarthy has said, the Justice Department under Mr. Holder has become “a sort of full-employment program for progressive activists, race-obsessed bean counters and lawyers who volunteered their services during the Bush years to help al Qaeda operatives file lawsuits against the United States.”
There is no way to know how long it will take to repair the damage that Mr. Holder has done to the management and operation of the Justice Department. One thing we do know for sure — it will take a great deal of work by a new attorney general who is willing to take on the activists that Mr. Holder will leave embedded within the career civil service ranks of the department. And it will take political willpower and steadfastness of a kind that is rarely seen in Washington.
Editor's Note: This commentary was co-authored by John Fund.
- Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
- John Fund is a columnist for National Review.
Originally appeared in The Washington Times