With the scoring threat of the National Rifle Association (NRA) hovering over yesterday's proceedings, it was no surprise that 17 Democrats voted with Republicans to uphold the sanction.
Presumably, had Democrats in swing districts voted against the contempt, they would be placing their own House tenure in jeopardy, as the NRA, with the long memory of elephants, would, during their reelection bid, remind their respective electorate--with one damaging ad after the other--of their unforgivable sin against gun ownership.
Supposedly a non-partisan organization, the group was anything but leading up to the House contempt vote, with the NRA leading the charge on the unsubstantiated claim that the Attorney General was involved in a cover up of misdeeds in the ATF Fast and Furious Operation, insisting that the Obama administration allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico, so that the ensuing violence would so disgust the American citizenry that they would call for a repeal of the Second Amendment.
An outlandish claim on the surface, but one that Republicans believed--once all the facts surfaced--would vindicate their actions and behavior, if only they could get their hands on the Attorney General's internal memos, e-mails and the like, that he refused to surrender to Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Congress holding Attorney General Holder in contempt has no precedence--and neither is there precedence for how this president has been attacked, and continues to be treated by those on the Right. The only explanation for it--according to many non-black pundits--is that the president is black, and the real reason that this kind of racist and racial treatment, far from being generally denounced, is quietly tolerated.
One of Fortune Magazine's reporters investigated the Fast and Furious conspiratorial claim, as well as other claims, revealing that Republican claims of a cover up, and a conspiracy to repeal the Second Amendment, was, itself, fraught with conspiratorial overtones:
Some call it the "parade of ants"; others the "river of iron." The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.
Conservatives have pummeled the Obama administration, and especially Holder, for more than a year. "Who authorized this program that was so felony stupid that it got people killed?" Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanded to know in a hearing in June 2011. He has charged the Justice Department, which oversees the ATF, with having "blood on their hands." Issa and more than 100 other Republican members of Congress have demanded Holder's resignation.