Attorney General Eric holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Obama's assertion of executive privilege in the "Fast and Furious" scandal is the latest in a series of recent reminders that an incumbent president is not to be underestimated. He has substantial powers at his disposal, even when he's wounded by a sluggish economy.
Asserting the privilege is not without risks. It leaves the question, raised immediately by Republicans: What is the president trying to hide? In this 40th anniversary week of the Watergate break-in, Obama has chosen to employ a power that was famously misused by President Richard Nixon.