I have not commented much on the "Fast & Furious" scandal in large part because there is still so much that is unknown. However, yesterdays news that Utah's only Democrat, Jim Matheson, is siding with the GOP on vote to hold AG Holder in contempt is telling.
Matheson, D-Utah, announced his position Tuesday, joining House Republicans, such as Utah Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, who have railed against Holder’s reaction to the congressional probe into the Justice Department’s "Fast and Furious" operation. One of the lost guns was later used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
"It just compounds the tragedy when both sides play politics instead of releasing the facts. The Terry family, the public and Congress deserve answers," Matheson said. "Sadly, it seems that it will take holding the attorney general in contempt to communicate that evasiveness is unacceptable."
The first thing this tells you is that AG Holder has not been as forthcoming as the Administrations defenders love to try to claim. When members of your own party say that you are hiding information from Congress - as my friend Ed Morrissey points out.
This tends to undercut the argument that the contempt vote is nothing more than a partisan electoral fight. Democrats, as the Salt Lake City Tribune notes, have claimed that Holder has been cooperative, releasing more than 7,000 pages of documentation. Unfortunately for Democrats, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed more than 130,000 pages of documents, which means that the DoJ has blocked more than 94% of the documents under subpoena. Their last-ditch offer to avoid contempt was even more ridiculous, as John Hinderaker explains:
The Obama administration has asserted a frivolous claim of executive privilege with respect to an unknown number of DOJ documents. (The number is unknown because the administration refuses to provide a standard privilege log.) Now, Eric Holder wants to offer the House a “representative sample” of less than 30 pages of the wrongfully withheld documents, in exchange for which the House is asked to abandon the Fast and Furious investigation altogether! This is absurd, even by Holder standards. We don’t know how many documents the administration is wrongfully withholding, but let’s assume they comprise only 2,000 pages (an extraordinarily small number). So the administration wants to select 30 harmless pages out of the 2,000, and thereby assure the House that the 1,970 they didn’t select are also insignificant!
The other thing this tells you is that the Matheson campaign is worried. He jumped to the new 4th Congressional District, rather than staying with his base in the 2nd, and now he is really starting to realize just how much of an uphill battle he is facing against Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love. Sure, this week's Dan Jones polls shows Rep. Matheson comfortably in front - in a race that has seen no press and no campaigning. The reality is, you are seeing Matheson signs out...ALREADY and you are also seeing him tack steadily to the right more and more every day. This race is much tighter than the poll indicates and Rep. Matheson knows it.
It is a bad year to be a Democrat. The Democratic lead Senate has not passed a budget in over 3 years and in a bad economy. They are spending money that they don't have (the deficit has more than doubled in the last 4 years) and the top of their ticket is becoming such a liability that more and more elected Democrats are choosing to distance themselves from him by skipping their annual convention (the latest Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill).
Elected Democrats are facing electoral reality - stick with a President whose popularity is slipping daily and possibly go down with the sinking ship or distance yourself from him and possibly live to fight another day. In Matheson's case, it is clear he has chosen to abandon ship.