On PBS’s Friday night “NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks, often considered to be a moderate voice in politics, said that attacking President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for the Fast and Furious program “is a winner for the Republicans”
In his weekly segment with syndicated columnist Mark Shields, Brooks explained that while he generally supports the concept that presidents have the ability to exercise executive privilege, using it under these circumstances might have been a mistake.
“I’m in general a defender of executive privilege,” Brooks said. “I think it’s important for an administration to be able to have conversations about policy that will be private, so they can have a normal deliberative process. In this case — whether legally the administration is on solid ground in invoking it — that is a gray area. Politically, I think it’s stupid.”
Brooks explained the right time to use executive privilege would be with a national security issue. However, in this instance, the right course of action might have been to lay out for the public how the policy was a mistake.
“I think politically it’s stupid, because it is one thing if you’re invoking executive privilege over some national security issue. This is a policy everybody admits was profoundly stupid. Why are you not saying, ‘OK, this was a stupid policy, let’s get it out there and let’s figure out how it came about.’”
Later in the segment, Brooks said the GOP was wise to use this against the administration to score political points.
“I think it is a winner for the Republicans,” Brooks said. “It’s funny — it hasn’t really registered with the country yet, what the government has done. When — if — it gets out: ‘Wait, they were sending guns to Mexico?’ — I think it’s such a thing that will startle people. I think it’s a clear winner for the Republicans. And what the Obama administration wants to do with this executive privilege: get it lost in the court system, push it past the election, and then hopefully it will go away.”