Attorney General Eric Holder told a sympathetic crowd earlier this week that he’s found his treatment (and, by extension, President Barack Obama’s) at the hands of House Republicans to be historically terrible. While this was clearly hyperbolic, objective observers must admit that being forced to endure cross-examination from the likes of Louie Gohmert is probably up there with hearing “Hey Oh” blasted on a loop.
This caused the entire conservative press corps to fein outrage, their main export, and excuse it away via handy historical comparison: other presidents and AGs have gotten it so much worse!
How are they so sure? Because they did it. Check out this little run from former congressman Joe Scarborough Thursday morning:
“[Holder’s] right,” Scarborough said sarcastically. “Absolutely no attorney general has ever been held in such contempt as this before. Unless, of course, you talk about Janet Reno, who was accused of murder by Republicans after Waco. I mean, you were there in the 1990s. We were all there in the 1990s. I was there in the 1990s. I can tell you what happened yesterday, if Louis Gohmert were interviewing Janet Reno in 1993 after Waco, or 1994 after Ruby Ridge, it would have been at least that tough, would it not?”
[snip] “We always hear this about Barack Obama as well,” Scarborough continued. “‘Oh, he’s treated worse than anybody.’ Really? Talk to Bill Clinton! The Clinton Chronicles? People accused Bill Clinton of murdering political rivals in Arkansas. National figures accused Bill Clinton of murder in Arkansas. So when you’re going to say to Barack Obama and Eric Holder have been treated worse than anybody else in the history of American politics because of their race? You’re not even going back twenty years, let alone 200.”
In other words, the mid-90s Congress’ behavior was downright appalling, and Scarborough should know because he was the one doing it. Brit Hume trotted out the identical argument Sunday morning (before going on to call Holder and Obama lucky for being black): “Its false that no attorney general or president has been subjected to this kind of treatment. After all, Bill Clinton was impeached.”
Both Hume and Scarborough seem untroubled by the fact that it was their own party that provided the examples of galling behavior that supposedly make the current crop pale. This is appallingly cynical logic: because we were so notably awful to the last Democratic administration, the argument goes, this one has no cause for complaint.
You can see where this is headed: when the next Democratic president objects to his or her treatment at the hands of vituperative Republican rivals, the trapdoor is right there: “What are you complaining about? We said the last President wasn’t even from this country!” Thus are the standards ever lowered.
[Image via screengrab]
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