Why the White House Will Miss Eric Holder

Holder was a central figure in President Barack Obama's orbit.

The betting pool in Washington on when Attorney General Eric Holder would step down started only about a month into President Barack Obama's time in office. It seemed to grow by the year, with a botched attempt to bring terror trials to New York, regular run-ins with the White House and even a contempt vote in the U.S. House -- a first for a cabinet official.

Yet Holder played an important -- and, his allies would say, underrated -- role in Obama's orbit (aside from the fact their wives are close friends and they often vacationed together). Some of Holder's closest current and former aides referred to their boss as "the heat shield" -- the guy who took the worst from Republicans, the press, the black community and let Obama skate free. There's a mix of sarcasm, frustration with the White House and truth to the nickname. Here's why:

1. He acted as Obama's proxy on race issues

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