Loretta Lynch isn't the president's BFF and that's good

tags: Loretta Lynch, attorney general

Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author of "Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education," which will be published in March by Princeton University Press.

You're not Eric Holder, are you?"

That's what Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch at her confirmation hearing. Nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Holder as attorney general, Lynch won approval from a key Senate panel on Thursday. And that's mostly because Lynch -- unlike Holder -- isn't a personal associate of the president.

That's also how it should be. The attorney general serves as the lawyer for the president and for the nation, which is always a delicate balancing act. It's that much harder when the person the president chooses is also a close friend.

Just ask Holder, who became one of the most vilified members of the Obama administration in GOP circles. One reason was his energetic defense of the president's policies on immigration, race relations, and drug enforcement. But the biggest reason was his personal association with the president himself: By most accounts, he is one of Obama's few close friends in the administration. 

That was also a problem for our first attorney general, Edmund Randolph, who had served as George Washington's aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War. But their relationship also generated resentment among Washington appointees such as Thomas Jefferson, who called Randolph "the poorest chameleon I ever saw, having no color of his own." ...

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