As a litigation attorney I learned that, no matter how well prepared a witness may be, he will often make revealing admissions if he becomes flustered or angry. That happened yesterday as Attorney General Eric Holder testified before a House Commerce subcommittee chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf.
Holder was being questioned by Rep. John Culberson (R., Texas) about the Justice Department’s handling (or mishandling) of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case; about its non-cooperation with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s investigation into the politically motivated departmental dismissal; and about what Culberson termed “overwhelming evidence that your Department of Justice refuses to protect the rights of anybody other than African-Americans to vote.” (Corner readers will recall that, according to sworn testimony, a political appointee within the Civil Rights Division informed career staff that there would be no enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against black defendants. Justice’s public-affairs shop has consistently denied that the DOJ has such a policy, but they have also refused to produce subpoenaed e-mails that would prove or disprove the claim.)
At the hearing, Holder maintained that “the Department of Justice does not enforce the law on the basis of race.” But Culberson’s persistent questioning about the facts of the NBPP case clearly got under Holder’s skin, for he went on to say that to compare what happened in Philadelphia to what happened in the South “does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.”
That “my people” is revealing, no? Imagine if Culberson had said the NBPP’s behavior was upsetting to his people. Holder’s slip of the tongue makes it pretty clear that he is inclined to interpret situations through the prism of how they affect his “people” — black Americans — and that he considers it insulting to his “people” to get upset over the intimidation committed by the jack-booted, paramilitary Black Panthers in Philadelphia (although Holder did admit their attempt to intimidate voters was “inappropriate”).
The aides who prepped Holder for the hearing must have cringed.