Eric Holder, President Obama’s embattled Attorney General, doesn’t think you should have to show your ID before you vote. But he does think you should have to show not one, but two forms of ID to campaign staff before you can hear him speak to the NAACP.
Each year, as one of the nation’s oldest civil rights groups, the NAACP hosts a convention to rally activists around what it believes are important causes. The group honored Mr. Holder with a speaking spot because of his long-standing opposition to voter ID laws – laws which require voters to show some form of identification at the ballot box to prevent them from voting twice. A huge majority of Americans (some 70% of them) support such laws as one method to curb rampant voter fraud.
But Mr. Holder, President Obama, and the NAACP all disagree. The official opposition claims that the urban poor don’t have the resources to obtain a valid ID, so asking them to show one at a polling station amounts to discrimination. Essentially, black leaders claim, it’s Jim Crow all over again.
“We call [voter ID laws] a poll tax,” Holder said at the convention in Houston.
But unlike a poll tax, state-issued IDs for voters are free. What’s more, numbers from the US Department of Transportation show that 205.8 million valid driver’s licenses are in circulation today – but there are only 186.9 million people registered to vote, according to the Election Assistance Commission. This means that everyone in the US who can vote already has a driver’s license, making the claim that the law would unfairly hit poor, minority voters indefensible.
Which brings us back to the original irony. Under President Obama, the black unemployment rate has risen to 16.2% – nearly double the national average. Black teenagers, 93% of whom voted for the president in 2008, are now suffering from a staggering 41% jobless rate.
Yet the president’s Attorney General – the first black AG in American history – demanded yesterday that any media in his NAACP audience have 2 forms of ID ready before they could hear his speech. In his own words, requiring people to show an ID is a “[p]olitical pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious rights.”
If that’s the case, then what Mr. Holder is doing to the NAACP would amount to nothing less than sabotage. This is probably not his intention; the organization supported him by calling for a walkout of black congressmen during last month’s contempt proceedings. That effort, however, was to no avail. Seventeen Democrats sided with Republicans to charge Mr. Holder with contempt of congress in connection to his failed “Fast and Furious” sting.
After the double-embarrassment of the botched gun-walking operation (which led to the death of an American border patrol agent) and the contempt citation, this latest blunder into hypocrisy has turned Holder into a major distraction for President Obama’s re-election effort.
Caught up in the middle of an intense presidential campaign, a distraction is the last thing he needs.