Legislative Vandalism

by Geraldo Rivera | Jun 29, 2012

Let me begin with a quote from a conservative Republican concerning his treatment by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

"This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree."

Substitute "Congress" for "Senate" and what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said during his contentious confirmation hearings in 1991 could easily apply to what House Republicans, joined by 17 Democrats, did Thursday to Attorney General Eric Holder.

In what the White House called an act of "political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight," for the first time in American history the House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold a sitting Attorney General in contempt for "lies and a cover-up exclusively within his jurisdiction," concerning the botched gun walking operation that allowed weapons purchased in the United States to fall into the hands of Mexican drug bandits with deadly result. A border agent, Brian Terry was killed with one of the weapons allowed to "run."

But there is a big but.

Darrell Issa, the California Republican who heads up the House investigation into the operation known as "Fast and Furious," admitted Wednesday of this week that his investigation had uncovered no evidence that Holder knew about Fast and Furious before Agent Terry's death. He amplified that by saying there was not even a strong suspicion that the Attorney General knew.

Rather, driven by a toxic combination of raw political ambition on the part of House Republicans, and pressure from the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owner's of America and other facets of the gun lobby, who suspected the entire motive of Holder and crew was to make guns look bad enough to bring back the ban on assault weapons or re-energize laws on gun registration. So Congress committed an act of legislative vandalism. Congressional graffiti artists, they have stained the record of the nation first black Attorney General who they intensely disliked for reasons as disparate as his support for gay rights and undocumented immigrants. Was his race one of the reasons he was targeted? Almost certainly not. Neither was Clarence Thomas. But it is hard to avoid the optics of all those white guys chopping the uppity black guy down to size.

Leaving my comments on the Supreme Court ruling upholding President Obama's signature healthcare law for another day, I want to say something about the ruling earlier in the week on Arizona's SB1070, the nation's harshest anti-illegal immigration law which was largely struck down by the court.

By preserving the law's "show me your papers please" provision, while stripping it of any meaningful power, the high court has created a situation in which Latinos will be racially profiled. I predict the law will last only weeks before a federal court enjoins its noxious power. Some Maricopa deputy working for Sheriff Joe Arpaio will stop a citizen Hispanic who will sue the state in federal court, and that will effectively be the end of it. And Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer will then have to face the realities of an Arizona that is demographically different from the idyllic retirement get-away for northern snow birds that she remembers from her youth.

Remember Russell Pearce? He was the famously uncompromising state senator who steered Arizona down the path of confrontation with immigrant Mexico. After helping mobilize and motivate a corps of Arizonans to view the ebb and flow of the undocumented masses as the greatest threat to our national security since the Axis enemy in WWII, Senator Pearce was history. After having inspired and co-authored several of the severest state statutes ever conceived to staunch that immigrant tide, he was ignominiously dumped by Arizona voters.

 Mr. Pearce, Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio steered the Grand Canyon State into a state of endless war with the future. As with the Eric Holder experience in congress, there is a better way to resolve these issues. Yes we can all get along.

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