Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, one of the first members of Congress to demand Attorney General Eric Holder resign over the ill-fated Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program, told The Daily Caller that Holder’s recent use of racial politics to attack his critics appears to be something President Barack Obama “orchestrated.”
Walsh agrees with Florida Republican Rep. Allen West’s assessment of Holder’s behavior, saying Holder’s race card is the “last card in the deck.”
“This is sort of the last refuge that people on the left will go to when they’re in trouble,” Walsh said in a phone interview. “They’ll accuse their opponents of racism. My God, we’ve got tons of problems in this country and … this president, is through Eric Holder, saying, ‘Nope, you can’t criticize me. If you criticize me, we’re going to accuse you of racism.’ Shame on them, that’s terrible.”
Walsh said Obama’s continued silence in the face of Holder’s inflammatory rhetoric demonstrates that the president shares in the blame for the attorney general’s choice of words.
“His [Obama’s] silence, to me, tells me the president is complicit in this,” Walsh said. “And, even if he does come out and say something, I can’t believe Eric Holder can even make a statement like that. In his statement he refers to himself and the president. I can’t believe that Eric Holder made that statement without either understanding that the president agreed with it, or [that] he had the president’s permission to say this.”
In a front page story, Holder told The Sunday New York Times that he thinks his critics are motivated by race. Holder said some unspecified faction — which he referred to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama because of the color of their skin.
“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
Walsh said Holder’s use of racial politics can also be explained by pressure the attorney general is feeling from a groundswell of House members demanding his resignation. To date 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors have asked Holder to step down over the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
Additionally, 75 House members have signed on to a House resolution calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 in the House who disapprove of Holder continuing to lead the DOJ.
Walsh said Holder’s comments appear to be a small-scale preview of the 2012 election season when Obama “will do anything to get re-elected.”
“This is so despicable, because what they’re doing is they’re trying real early now to lay down the ground rules for his re-election,” Walsh said. “This time around, the American people are not going to put up with it. We can criticize this president based on the job he’s done — I don’t care what his skin color is.”
“He is going to say, because he did this during the last election, and the media is going to enable him to get away with it, that any time we criticize him, it’s because of his race,” Walsh added. “For Eric Holder to take that same line right now is absolutely ridiculous and to me, it’s just more fodder proving that he needs to resign.”
White House spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed that he received The Daily Caller’s questions about whether President Obama agrees with Holder’s characterization of his critics as racists. Schultz promised to answer the question on Monday, but he had not responded at press time.