August 27th, 2007
07:42 PM ET
11 years ago

Commentary: Time for a black attorney general

Who should succeed Gonzales as attorney general? Roland Martin has made his pick.

(CNN) - Now that Alberto Gonzales has finally jumped ship, President George W. Bush is in a tough position.

He needs to fight back charges from Democrats that the Justice Department has no credibility, and of course, he must also give Republicans some hope that he has someone in mind who they can rally behind.

One name that would be a win-win: Larry Thompson.

Thompson served as deputy attorney general of the United States from January 2001 until August 2003, and was widely seen as a comforting presence while a volatile John Ashcroft was sitting in the top spot. He left for a big corporate gig as PepsiCo’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Not only is he seen as a moderate; Thompson was also widely respected when he was the top U.S. attorney for the northern District of Georgia. Democrats and Republicans both like him, and that’s a good thing today.

Another plus? He’s African-American.

Sure, people should be appointed based on qualifications, but he has that. His race is an added element.

First, Thompson would be the first African-American to serve as attorney general, and Bush has already had a couple of firsts (Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State). Second, Bush would get someone who he already knows, and can trust to get through what some are already calling a tough confirmation hearing.

Thompson may have been making the big bucks in the private sector, but he surely wouldn’t pass up the chance at making history, and helping a president in desperate need of some good news.

- CNN contributor Roland Martin

Filed under: Alberto Gonzales
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. John

    Former VP of PepsiCo? Yeah, that's all we need, more puppets of big business running the government. Bush has already shown us how well that works.

    August 27, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  2. Gumby, Flagstaff, AZ

    ..or, just maybe he's smart enough to stay out of "mess on the hill"!! hahah!

    August 27, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. tharndu colombo SriLanka

    -–citing an excerpt from a web site on terrorism faced by srilanka--

    At a time when the world has given the highest priority to rooting out terrorism following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, and the 2001 UN Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, we find that the western powers focused all their attention on combating the Al Qaeda and other Arab terrorist groups that were considered a threat to their own interests. They allowed the LTTE to operate with impunity within their jurisdictions cultivating politicians in exchange for campaign funds and votes of the Tamil diaspora, thereby discounting the unceasing turmoil, bloodshed and destruction caused by the Tamil Tiger Terrorists to Sri Lanka’s institutions of governance and the civilian population from all the ethnic communities.

    August 27, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  4. David, St. Clairsville, OH

    The next attorney general nominee should be prepared to answer the following questions during the confirmation hearings:

    Have you ever suffered blunt head trauma that has resulting in you not being able to recall important events and meetings in your life?

    Have you heard of 'habeas corpus'?

    Do you believe that the Bill of Rights is similiar to the Pirates Code – they're more like guidelines than hard and fast rules to follow and live by?

    August 27, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Coming from Roland,I'd wager Mr. Thompson is a poor choice.The right-wing representatives are not big on brain power.I've found Mr. Rolands contributions to be negligable,and his ideas old.He consistantly defends the indefensible.

    August 27, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    WHY does it always have to come down to RACE?

    Novel idea – how about we seek the best QUALIFIED person! Leave race, gender, sexual orientation, and any other label out of the equation.

    August 27, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. Jerry

    Why is his being an African American a plus. That's what is wrong with our country today. Who cares if he is a black or white. I think you know the answer to that question. If he is qualified for the job then great. But please don't say it's a plus since he is black. What if he were Chinese. Guess your comment would be a little different.

    August 27, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Barbara, Culver City, CA

    The most competent person who is available should get the job. It shouldn't matter what color that person is. Color neither adds to nor detracts from one's competence. At this time of crisis in the Bush administration, nothing less than the best will do.

    August 27, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. C.LyOns, New York, NY

    A pretty good piece....what I think is ironic, as a African American myself, that there was quite a few African-Americans involved in what could be considered the worst administration in the history of the United States...though I'm not blaming Thompson, if he gets appointed, or Colin Powell, he was a patsy that jumped ship early, but for face value its pretty ugly.

    August 27, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. Elaine Seattle, Wa

    Forget all the, white, brown, blue, whatever. Get some women in office and maybe things won't be so screwed up!!

    August 27, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. William Zipkin, Hollywood, FL

    Here's an idea! Why not pick whoever's the best qualified for the job & ignore what his/her race, creed or religion is... That's IS the Law.. which is supposed to apply to ALL of us Americans....

    August 27, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. E. Caldwell Philly, PA

    This article is disguisting. Does anyone else hear the word "Token" blaring in the back of your mind as you read this? Next AG won't be appointed because he or she is the best man or woman for the job, they won't be appointed because of the skin color, religious beliefs or gender. This administration will continue to surround itself with "Yes men" the Next AG will be a "Yes Man or woman." This artilce also seems to smack C. Rice and C. Powell in the face by just stopping shy of suggesting that they were appointed to there positions of service not because of there outstanding service to this country over the last few decades, but because of there skin color. Although i'm not a big fan of either of the two, the should be given there proper due. they earned there spots. How about its Time for a just AG"

    August 27, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  13. Joshua Davis

    Just because Alberto was corrupt doesn't mean all Latinos are. And it's unfortunate that one of the first Latinos to a high level government position messed up in a such a way, given racists one more reason to look down on them.

    August 27, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  14. Randy Bong Cal. City, IL

    Based on the treatment of Colin Powell appointing someone simply because of their minority status isn't enough. The person who gets the job must be independent of the Bush control which caused Gonzales failures.This could be the man. Who wants the pressure and would be independent enough to survive that Bush/Cheney inner circle that excluded General Powell.

    August 27, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. Myron, Honolulu, Hi

    Racism won't protect Bush; it didn't protect Gonzales; it doesn't protect Obama.

    Why isn't time for honesty in the Bush administration?

    How about Rudy G. for AG he's got the background.

    August 27, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Beckster

    Since when did race become a plus for someone when it comes to hiring. The fact is that Mr. Martin could have written this article without even mentioning the fact that Mr. Thompson is a black man. Mr. Thompson is qualified. He is a moderate who may be able to heal the wounds, and he is widely respected. But the fact that he is black makes absolutely no difference. This only shows that Mr. Martin is a racist. That his people should be given a plus because of their color.

    I have read many of Mr. Martin's articles. The majority of them tend to have racial overtones. In one article several months ago he complained about Christianity focusing on things which he felt were not important issues. So be it. That is his opinion and I respect that. However, along the way he somehow got race involved in the issue. Racial issues have no business being promoted through religious dialog. The fact that he does this is sad. And in this case he also has tried to promote his race through politics.

    Mr. Martin, we can no longer live in
    the past as many African-Americans do. Your race is not owed anything. You now are on equal footing in this country. Laws, policies, and attitudes have all been changed to accommodate different races. Are there still instances of racism in America? Absolutely. But many of them are being displayed by races that are not Caucasian.

    I would hope that in the future you could write about a topic and not turn it into a racial issue.

    August 27, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Cary - Lowell, IN

    Shouldn't color not matter? Don't we want the most highly qualified person for Attorney General?

    August 27, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. Jim V, Chardon, OH

    Black A.G.? What difference does that make? No, it's time for an Attorney General who will expertly serve HIS COUNTRY, instead of HIS OWN PERSONAL AGENDA.

    August 27, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    how about a qualified attorney general

    August 27, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  20. Herb, Detroit MI

    Your headline and entire article is obscene. You might be well-intended but you lost all sense once racial background came into play. It is NOT a factor. Race has nothing to do with anything – OR AT LEAST it shouldn't. That's half everyone's problem. The only thing that matters is how qualified one is for the job, whether it be janitor or United States Attorney General. Lose the politically correct slant for once please and start talking common sense.

    August 27, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Laurie, Richmond and Virginia

    Would love to see him in the job. He is doing a great job at Pepsi but it would be great for our Country to have someone who may be able to bring some unity to this America.

    August 27, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  22. augustus hadrian

    wow! if someone were to say the next attorney general should be white, wouldn't he be accused of racism?

    August 27, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. bryandodd

    So much for equality I suppose... now that we're going to start identifying which race a public figure is supposed to be. I suppose we can also add that to the long list of "affirmative action" doctrines to which society so strongly holds on to... "Ok, we've admitted 4 white students, time to pick a latino applicant outta this pile so we can be fair!" Yep... makes perfect sense to me.

    August 27, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. Ian

    Actually, right now all we need is an AG with respect for the law. We haven't had that yet with this administration in either of the confirmed AG's or the nominees who were also forced to withdraw in shame.

    August 27, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  25. David John

    It doesn't surprise me that Roland Martin has made this suggestion! Most of his pieces/columns have a single agenda–promoting African-Americans (be it Obama, Rice or Thompson) at any cost! Someone should tell him that not everything is about race!

    August 27, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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