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Monday, January 12, 2009

Anticipation Builds as Holder Hearing Looms

As Eric Holder, President-elect Barack Obama’s selection for the post of attorney general, prepares for his Senate hearing on Thursday, political rags are reeling with predictions both for his confirmation hearing and his goals for the Justice Department. While many hope that Holder’s leadership will put an end to the partisan turmoil that has plagued the Justice Department during the Bush administration, his nomination has done the opposite in the Senate, dividing senators along party lines.

The Legal Times published an article today titled “The Dozen Things to Watch at Holder’s Hearing.” The piece’s authors, Joe Palazzolo and David Ingram, suggest that while the nomination should make it through the upper chamber eventually, there will be plenty of partisan fodder in the meantime. Among their several predictions (actually a dozen, as their title would suggest), the men suggest that Republicans in the Senate, many of whom did battle with Holder during the Clinton administration, will be looking to take their revenge during Thursday’s hearing.

Once he makes it through what, by all accounts, will be a tough confirmation process though, Holder has a whole new set of challenges ahead of him. The three men in charge of the DOJ during Bush’s two terms managed to make an art form of tearing down the once revered institution. After eight years of partisan turmoil, Holder has a lot of work to do if he hopes to restore the department’s tattered image. An article in Saturday’s National Journal (subscription required) broke down just what needs to be done.

In a rather amusing example of literary flare, National Journal reporter Peter Stone compared the work to be done at Justice with the exploits of the mythological Hercules. “To accomplish the fifth of his mythological labors, Hercules needed just one day to clean up the mess in the Augean stables. Former high-level government officials and other experts say that it will take the next attorney general much longer to do the same at the Justice Department, badly soiled by scandal during the Bush administration.” Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

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