I had high hopes for Eric Holder when he was appointed Attorney General. He had at one point been a career prosecutor, and by the mid-nineties had become the Clinton-appointed US Attorney for the District of Columbia. He also seemed to me, from the very few interactions I had with him, to be a level-headed man with a wicked sense of humor.
He still has the sense of humor, but has become far too political as Attorney General. Among other things
, he plays to the Democratic Party's constituencies pretty shamelessly, see, e.g., my post here
, and did so again last Friday in his obsequious speech
to those who are ostensibly (though not actually) his "adversaries" in the criminal defense bar. A day or two later, he gave a much shorter, and perfunctory, video talk
to the prosecutors whose work he's busy scuttling.
'Twas not ever thus.
In the olden time, Mr. Holder thought tougher sentencing, even for a relatively less harmful drug (pot), was not only acceptable but imperative. According to the Washington Post's reporting
in December 1996:
U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. called yesterday for tougher laws to thwart marijuana dealers in the District, saying the drug's growing popularity has contributed to a wave of recent killings, robberies and other violence.
Current laws are much too lax to address the problem, Holder contended. Under D.C. law, a person arrested for distributing marijuana can be charged only with a misdemeanor, punishable at most by a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Holder wants the D.C. Council to make the offense a felony, carrying up to five years in prison. Then, he said, "the punishment will finally fit the crime." The penalty for distributing drugs such as cocaine, heroin and PCP in the city would remain a maximum of 30 years....
Goodness gracious! It was a relatively scant 18 years ago, and of course a politically less electrified job, when Mr. Holder was -- ready now? -- a racist.