The 18-month investigation into the botched gun-running operation Fast and Furious "has finally handed House Republicans a prize they've long sought," say Jake Sherman and Reid J. Epstein at Politico: "A legal smackdown of the Obama administration." The House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Wednesday for declining to turn over hundreds of documents related to the operation. But that's not what this is really about, suggests MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I don't want to start too much forest fire here, but it is my instinct: Is this ethnic?" Matthews isn't the only Democrat saying Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) investigation is "motivated by racism," says Joel Gehrke at The Washington Examiner. In December, Holder himself said the House was going after him "to get at the president... both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we're both African-American." Is the GOP really targeting Holder because he's black?
Liberals are playing the race card: If race is a factor here, it's because Team Obama is "baiting a trap" for the GOP, says former Rep. Artur Davis at Politico. By claiming executive privilege over the contested Fast and Furious documents, they're "deliberately escalating a conflict with congressional Republicans to drive the narrative of Republican extremism." And "Holder's race, frankly, is a convenience that abets the other favored Democratic argument of covert Republican racism." Nobody's buying it.
"Obama executive privilege assertion legit?"
Racist or not, this is clearly a witch hunt: The death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, apparently by one of the Fast and Furious guns, "is indeed a scandal," says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. But this isn't about finding out what went wrong — Issa only wants documents from February 2011, "two months after Terry was killed and the program was shut down." Holding Holder in contempt over a routine White House-Congress spat and accusing him of being "an accessory to murder" are "contemptible antics" that prove this is personal.
"Republicans' attempt to hold Holder in contempt is uphill battle"
Race may actually help Holder: The full House probably will hold Holder in contempt next week, says Alex Koppelman at The New Yorker, but "barring some earth-shaking development," that's the end of the scandal. Sure, Republicans "will get some political mileage" from the move, but the only thing Congress can really do to enforce it is "the nuclear option" — arrest and try Holder. Not only has that not been done in 80 years, but "it's hard to believe Republicans relish the idea of voters seeing them imprisoning the country's first African-American attorney general."
"The crime, the coverup, and Congress"