A Bad Idea Whose Time Damn Well Better Not Have Come

So you had to figure someone would propose a Republican replacement for Eric Holder because Bipartisanship (Obama’s never tried that, right?), and that they’d probably propose it at Politico Magazine. But former Rep. Jane Harman went too far and then pushed her luck:

At this point in his presidency, Barack Obama has an opportunity to build consensus [sic!]. With Eric Holder’s resignation, he should consider taking this opportunity to mend fences and revive a Cabinet once billed as a “team of rivals.” So how about a Republican for attorney general? I have a candidate in mind: former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who will probably curse me for making the suggestion.

Not before a lot of Democrats curse you, Jane. But I’m interrupting:

[L]et’s consider Olson’s record. He’s been, for one, a vital ally to the LGBT community—a powerful force within his own party on the issue, and a fitting inheritor to some of Holder’s signature accomplishments on marriage equality. As co-lead counsel with David Boies on Hollingsworth v. Perry, Olson courageously challenged California’s ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. Having argued before the Supreme Court almost 60 times up to that point, Olson still said of the victory, “This has been the highlight of my life.” He also confronted his own party in defending the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, and happens to be married to a card-carrying Democrat.

Harman goes on to suggest that on legal issues associated with national security Obama is increasingly in line with “Olson’s old boss, George W. Bush,” which is another argument not exactly designed to reassure Democrats. Nowhere, of course, does she mention Olson’s leading roles in the two most disastrous Supreme Court rulings of our era, Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. FEC. Nor does she note Olson’s gig as attorney and chief toady for the Brothers Koch, on whose behalf he has written at least one preposterous op-ed claiming them as innocent victims of the evil Barack Obama.

Since this last factor alone should bar Olson from any job with an administration he has demonized, I should probably mention Harman’s other ideas for a GOP Attorney General:

There happen to be some other worthy Republican candidates: former FBI and CIA Director William Webster, former FBI Director Bob Mueller, former HUD Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills and outgoing senator Saxby Chambliss, to name a few. But the essential point is that posts should be open, whenever possible, to individuals of talent – not just the right party registration.

Saxby Chambliss? Saxby Chambliss? I’ve known him (or at least known of him) since he was on Sam Nunn’s Key Supporter list for Colquitt County, Georgia, back in the late 1980s, and I had to look up his bio to determine he even had a law degree. He’s never served on the Judiciary Committee in either House, and his main national claim to fame was the despicable campaign he ran against Max Cleland in 2002.

No, let’s don’t listen to Jane Harman on the AG appointment. If these are her best ideas, I’d hate to hear the worst.

UPDATE: Should have known Charlie Pierce would get there first. I’ll definitely check Esquire before posting next time I go off on something I read in PoliticoLand.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.