August 27th, 2007
07:42 PM ET
7 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. AJ, Baton Rouge, LA

    At this juncture, race is not as important as someone who will do his or her job. Let's face it, any person that would pass the standards of George W. would be useless to us as a country. Raising the cry for an African American is a futile distraction that detracts from the true needs of the African American community. Having a black person in the AG's seat will not help the community or the country if their only qualifier is that they are black and available to take our turn in the position.

    August 27, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  2. Moe, NY

    Please do not bring race into this arena. Race should not under any circumstances be a factor in this area. Race just does not matter! What matters is that the person appointed be HONEST, work for and with the American people, and he/she should not cave into pressure by the present administration (or future administration) as to their political agenda.

    August 27, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. Matthew F, Wayne, PA

    Why is being black an added element? That is a racist comment. If it was said that someone should be picked because he/she had the added element of being white would that be acceptable? How do you think Sharpton and Jackson would respond?

    August 27, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Natalie W., West Chester, PA

    Anyone with a lick of sense – be it African-American, Chinese-American, or Heinz 57 – should avoid this administration like the plague. While the honor of being the "first" is worthy, to be the "first" amongst a band of criminals isn't noble.

    August 27, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. Becky, Euless, TX

    Posted By Moe, NY : August 27, 2007 9:11 pm

    Well said sir? are you running for President? you have my Vote!

    August 27, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  6. D.M.HARPER

    WHILE SEEING AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN IN THAT POSITION WOULD BE A GREAT MOVE LETS MAKE SURE WE ARE GETTING THE MOST QUALIFIED,WELL ROUNDED AND SOUND INDIVIDUAL FOR THE JOB...IM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN WHO JUST BEAT DOWN THE SAYING BY COWORKERS THAT I GOT IT BECAUSE IM BLACK AND NOT THAT I AM THE ONLY ONE IN AREA WITH A DEGREE AND EXPERIENCE, SO LET'S MAKE THE MOVE ON MERIT ...

    August 27, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. Loyda, WDC

    why does race have to be brought up????

    As a country, we are NOT going to be able to move-on from the racial segregation era until we stop using race as a criteria....

    If Mr. Thompson is qualified, IS COMPROMISED WITH UPHOLDING THE LAW, and both sides like him, WELCOME!!!

    BUT PLEASE STOP MAKING RACE THE FIRST CRITERIA IN THE "THINGS-TO-CONSIDER" LIST!!!!! IT SHOULD NOT MATTER

    August 27, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. Mike, Atlanta GA

    Stop deleting this valid comment.

    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 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    I hope Bush doesn't put in a black AG. The repugs only exploit blacks in America and make superficial attempts (Powell and Rice). They don't really take black issues into consideration.

    If they nominated a black man for AG – we'd end up with Clarence Thomas II.

    August 27, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. W. Heidecker

    Race should not be a factor. If Thompson is the best qualified, then he should be nominated. If he is not, then someone else should be nominated.

    When people make statements endorsing candidates because they are African-Americans, they should imagine the reaction if someone publicly endorsed another candidate because he is Caucasian.

    August 27, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  11. W. GLUM, San Diego, California

    Why would anyone who is qualified and agrees with G.W.Bush be willing to submit them selves to the abuse they would get from the Democratic Congrss?

    If they do not agree with Bush why should he nominate them?

    August 27, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  12. Taylor in Atlanta, GA

    Why is being African-American a "plus"? If we really want equality in this country, we should stop looking at people's race altogether when it comes to an issue like this. Based on his credentials, would Thompson be a good fit? Of course! Should we give him extra consideration because he happens to be black? NO! As long as we have race supremacists (on every side of the spectrum), we can forget about this whole equality thing.

    August 27, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  13. Jon H, Somerville, MA

    As others note, we need an AG who respects rule of law.

    Putting in a black AG in such a deeply corrupt administration that is just trying to dodge investigations until the end of the term is not doing that person any favors. It's no prize.

    Chances are, if appointed in a Bush administration, a first black AG will be stained with failure and corruption like Powell and Rice have been.

    August 27, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. Frank Delano Swansboro N.C.

    An added plus, he African America,
    How dare you... you racist.
    What if I said, an added plus, he's a white man.
    If I can't say it, you can't.
    I am tired of it. I am a German Americam. Where are my rights?

    August 27, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. Tamica, Houston, TX

    Please do not bring race into this discussion. If Thompson is qualified, let his experience speak for itself. Race has nothing to do with this.

    August 27, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. James, Dallas TX

    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 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. Ron, Green Bay, Wisconsin

    The correct question should be...Time for a qualified, honest, and ethical Attorney General??? Race should be the least important thing here.

    August 27, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Kyle, San Diego, CA

    What a headline! I know it's simply to the point but come on. I guess it's too much to ask the media to help society rise above any strife, they've got the feed it to get the story, of course...

    August 27, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Michael, Provo, UT

    Poor article .. sadly reflective of current thought. "Time for a black attorney general?" His being black or any color/race/religion, etc should quite obviously have no bearing on his being a good candidate.
    The mere stating of such sadly reflects that people do still factor in such things. Often while claiming not to do so. If it truly matters in no way (a pro or a con), then why are such things brought up time and again? A continuing disappointment to common state of mind

    August 27, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  20. Spencer, Boston MA

    I think the next attorney general should be chosen based on their merits rather than their race. That would be fair, would it not?

    August 27, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. John

    Dear CNN and Roland Martin,

    NEWSFLASH: We Americans want someone who has the credentials to do the job. All race does is inspire a particular ethnic group and make the administration look like they accept minorities. We should be looking for the best man or woman for the job, and it is surely not Chertoff or any other Bush good-ol'-boy.

    August 27, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  22. Franklin Brown, Raleigh, NC

    This kind of commentary is a disgrace to be on the front page of CNN.

    The race of our next attorney general is irrelevant.

    Rather, the qualifications of this person are relevant – will they enforce the law, will they serve our country, will they follow the law?

    That this commentary is somehow on the front page of esteemed CNN.com is disparagable.

    August 27, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  23. Marcie, Providence RI

    You might be well-intended but you lost all credibility 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. Start talking common sense, please.

    August 27, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  24. Vivian, Chesapeake, VA

    Heck, can we just get one who OBEYS THE LAW!?!?! I don't care if he or she (just throwing that one out there) is black, white, yellow, or blue. I don't think we have anywhere to go but up – although if Michael Chertoff gets it I may end up eating my words.

    August 27, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. David, Washington, DC

    I say NO to Larry Thompson. Any black won't do. Just look at Clarence Thomas as a replacement for Thurgood Marshall.

    August 27, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
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