Holder on Warpath on MLK Day

If you missed this from Chris Herrington in the CA, it’s enlightening to those of us on the Republican side.

The reporter really makes no attempt at impartiality. It also shows how the Democrats think and what they’re willing to do to win in November.

A few minutes before former Attorney General Eric Holder’s keynote address at the MLK50 symposium at the Peabody yesterday, I ran into someone who had been in the morning sessions, on criminal justice and voting rights. They had apparently gotten pretty tough on the current inhabitant of Holder’s old office, Jefferson Sessions.

“It was like visiting a country that existed a year and a half ago,” he joked, before adding. “I’d still like to be in that country.”

You got the sense that most luncheon attendees, nibbling plates of chicken and listening to a series of speeches, might agree. It felt like the meeting of a government in exile. (Several attendees had apparently come straight from Nashville, where former Vice President Al Gore had hosted a 70th birthday party.)

Holder was introduced by recently elected Alabama Senator Doug Jones. When Jones, as a federal prosecutor, convicted two men responsible for the Birmingham church bombing, he worked with Holder, then a deputy under Janet Reno in the Clinton-era Justice Department.

But before Jones paid tribute to Holder, he introduced a couple of other dignitaries in the crowd, “What I hope are a couple of future colleagues [in the Senate], Mike Espy and Phil Bredesen.”

Jones was elected in a high-profile race last December, becoming the first Democrat to serve Alabama in the senate since Howell Heflin, more than two decades ago.

Espy, a former Mississippi congressman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary, is an announced candidate for retiring Senator Thad Cochran’s seat, which will be decided by a special election in November. Espy would seek to follow Jones in becoming his state’s first Democratic senator since John C. Stennis in 1989. (He would be the first black Mississippi senator since Reconstruction.)

Bredesen, a former two-term Tennessee governor, is seeking retiring Senator Bob Corker’s seat this fall. If successful, he would be the first Tennessean on the Democratic side of the senate chamber since Jim Sasser in 1995.

Bredesen’s likely race against Rep. Marsha Blackburn could find itself in the national spotlight. Bredesen is a quiet but substantial figure from the moderate wing of his party. Blackburn is a political firestarter from the opposite end of hers.

Bredesen has been running stolid television ads signalling that he’s not an inherently oppositional figure to the current president. The subtext of his campaign so far: “I’m here to govern; she’s here to get on the talk shows.” Will it work? Time will tell.

Did Doug Jones start something? Time will tell.

If 1968 looms over this week in Memphis, 2018 loomed over Peabody’s Grand Ballroom yesterday. And so did 2020.

Holder, the highest-ranking African-American law enforcement official in the country’s history, took the stage only a couple of hours after the announcement that former Vice President Joe Biden would be making a Memphis tour stop this summer. Biden clearly wants to run. Holder is a subject of 2020 speculation as well, for either top or bottom of his party’s ticket.

Holder cited the “three evils” King focused on near the end of his life: Racism, poverty, and war. But he also provided a litany of more specific issues where he senses the country going backwards, not from 1968, but from 2016: Voting rights, ballot box access, criminal justice, “empowering white supremacists.”

“The age of bullies and bigots is not yet behind us,” Holder said, also referencing the activism of “young people who feel lost in their own country.”

Holder, as he has in his own civilian life over the past year-and-a-half, honed in (sic) on voting rights as “the chief civil rights issue of our time,” with “spurious claims of voter fraud” and gerrymandering preserving a “status quo where politicians are picking their voters.”

Holder came closest to implicating He Who Shall Not Be Named in his biggest applause line, warning against yearning for “a past that was comforting to too few and unjust for too many. That’s not how we make America great.”

Some, I suppose, might find it untoward that contemporary politics would hang so heavy in the air at an event ostensibly about commemorating the death and life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I found it unavoidable. (For starters, the room was full of politicians.)

King, of course, was not a traditional political actor. He was a moral leader who addressed politics as a necessity and challenged leaders of both (or all) political parties at a time when there was a some level of bipartisan consensus on the wrong side of history.

Political leaders needed to bend to his movement, not he to their needs. Those that did most profoundly (Kennedy, Johnson) provoked a political realignment, and we’re still living in the aftermath, though one that seems to be growing less geographically precise.

Holder, Jones noted without commentary, had first been nominated for a judgeship by Ronald Reagan. Even those were different times.

Yeah, well St. Ronald didn’t always hit the mark as we know from his immigration cave.

I find it incredible that someone of as low an ethical character as Holder is allowed to prance around and be respected, much less considered presidential material.

The three evils King cited that Holder mentioned like racism will never be allowed to end under the Democrat party. Poverty in the black community has taken a knock from the good jobs situation Trump has provided. Dems don’t like that. As for war, they turn their efforts towards a civil one which they would greatly like to start given their incendiary rhetoric.

Let’s see if Doug Jones gets re-elected. I doubt it. Let’s see if Bredesen gets elected. I doubt that, too. I don’t think the diehard Democrats will like that he’s straddling their leftism with a Trump outreach. Conservatives won’t be taken in by his deception. He’ll vote with Chuck Schumer readily the first day he enters the Senate.

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