President Obama has a tough decision to make, but that’s why he gets paid the big bucks. He thinks highly of Attorney General Eric Holder, but it might be time to separate himself from the man who was his legal advisor when he first ran for president and was on his short list for vice-presidential running mates.
Ron Paul, despite lagging behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in delegates for the Republican nomination, is polling the best against Obama in head-to-head competition, meaning that there is a significant number of voters who are either very strongly anti-war, very strongly pro-civil rights or both, that see Paul as the only candidate of either party who reflects their strongly held beliefs.
Perot’s on-again off-again campaign merely stripped Republican voters from George H. Bush, guaranteeing a win for Bill Clinton, but Paul represents a serious threat to Obama because he will surely pull libertarians from both parties, which brings us to Holder.
Holder gave a speech this week defending the use of drones to kill US citizens abroad suspected of being terrorists. When challenged on the legality of these planned killings of US citizens on the question of due process, Holder argued that suspected terrorists target for killing did receive due process, just not the old fashion kind which involves a grand jury or a judge.
This is dangerous ground but Holder has been on dangerous ground before. He denied in testimony to Congress having any knowledge of the BATF’s notorious gunwalking scheme Fast and Furious that allowed thousands of weapons bought in the US to be smuggled in to Mexico. In the same case, Holder has refused to provide investigators with information sought to establish what and when he knew about Fast and Furious. Similarly, Holder has refused to reveal any documentation at all about the process used to determine who gets put on the CIA’s kill-list.
In a head-to-head contest, it looks like Obama would handily beat either Santorum or Romney, but throw Paul in the mix and it’s anybody’s race. If Obama wants to avoid this scenario, it’s time for him to make a quick break with Holder and denounce administration policies that Holder has been defending that are clearly unconstitutional. Holder’s been in politics a long time and he’ll understand that it’s not personal; occasionally someone has to take one for the team and this time it’s him.
Obama ran on closing Guantanamo Bay, criticized the Bush administration for detaining (not killing) terror suspects without due process and, as a senator, was against many of the domestic intelligence initiatives enabled by the USAPatriot Act, all of which garnered a lot of votes from the right and the left. Without a quick course and speed correction on civil liberties, Obama will cede all of those votes to Ron Paul and runs the chance of throwing away a second term.