Being a political football is no fun.

Just ask Eric H. Holder Jr., the nation’s attorney general, who found himself caught in the middle of a long-time-coming scrum between congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama this past week.

Just hours before a House committee was set to consider holding him in contempt about the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over documents related to the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running sting, Obama invoked executive privilege to bar those documents from being released.

That move turned what had been a minor political argument into an all-out assault. Republicans raged at the decision and suggested that Obama and Holder were hiding something. The House Government Oversight and Government Reform committee went forward with its vote to recommend holding Holder in contempt — on a straight party-line vote, natch.

House Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor quickly scheduled a contempt vote for the full House in the coming week, signaling that they have no intention of walking away from the fight.

Democrats, meanwhile, condemned the actions as partisan politics at their worst. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called them “a shameful display of an abuse of power.”

In the middle of it all stood Holder, who had to watch somewhat passively as he was punted around the political field.

Eric Holder, for getting kicked around, you had the worst week in Washington. Again. Congrats, or something.

Chris Cillizza is a political reporter at The Washington Post.


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