Attorney General Eric Holder and ABC News teamed up Thursday to suggest a new administration talking point about the looming budget showdown with Congress:
If American shopping malls are vulnerable, blame Republicans.
At the tail end of a report that basically downplayed the likelihood of an attack on U.S. soil like the one Islamic terrorists staged this week at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, ABC included Holder’s responses to questions about whether it could happen here.
“I’m not sure they have the capacity to do anything in the United States,” Holder said. “It doesn’t mean, however, we will not take the threat that they pose … as a serious one.”
But the whole tone of the report changed when Holder implied that could change if there’s a government shutdown that forces furloughs for federal employees, including FBI agents at the Justice Department.
“Will Americans be less safe?” ABC’s Pierre Thomas asked.
Holder responded that Justice would “do all that we can” and keep “essential” employees at work.
“But the reality is, we cannot do the job in the Justice Department as we would want to unless we have all of our people on the job,” he said.
The whole exchange strains credibility:
First of all, the question, “Will Americans be less safe?” might have been going for a quick sound bite, but it almost sounds like a plant. It was basically an invitation for Holder to hold forth on how tough Republicans are making it to protect the American shopping mall.
Second, when Holder says “We cannot do the job in the Justice Department as we would want,” it’s tough to know what job he’s talking about for a gang that seems to spend most of its energy thinking up reasons to sue Texas. They could probably do that just as easily on furlough as they can on the clock.
Finally, the attorney general’s opinions about Islamic terrorism have to be considered a little shaky. This is a man, remember, who at one time could barely bring himself to say the words “radical Islam” under direct questioning by Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith.
Is he really the best judge of murderers who ask potential victims to recite the Quran and slaughtering those who cannot?
So Holder — with help from the media — is already laying the groundwork to deflect blame for any potential attack on U.S. soil by the radical Islamists the attorney general can’t even describe.
They won’t blame the Quran. They’ll blame Ted Cruz.
For anyone needing a refresher, here’s the video of Smith questioning Holder about “radical Islam” during a May 2010 House hearing. It’s still painful to watch.