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. d. phillips

    Time for a BLACK attorney general?

    Look what the last affirmative action AG choice wrought.

    Let's just shoot for a competent one, hmm?

    August 27, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. Bill Hatton Havertown PA

    How about the most qualified? Why a race issue.

    August 27, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Eddie, Brooklyn NY

    Why should George Bush, who I am not a fan of, pick a "black" anything unless that person is the most qualified person? What has he gotten for lacing other blacks such as Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell in high ranking slots? He's gotten nothing yet the black population seems to love Hillary Clinton, perhaps even more than Obama, and who did did Bill Clinton ever appoint to such positions? No one, yet blacks continue to flock to him and other Democrats like sheep heading to the slaughter.

    August 27, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. James, NY, NY

    Why do we have to bring in race? Who cares. He is either qualified or unqualified. The fact that he's black should have nothing to do with the vetting process. The fact that you give "bonus points" for being a minority is ridiculous.

    August 27, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Ben W. St. Louis, Missouri

    Why is this crappy commentary posted on Why the heck was this allowed up? Do you people at cnn have any standards at all?

    "Another plus? He’s African-American.
    Sure, people should be appointed based on qualifications, but he has that. His race is an added element."

    His race is an added element???? Are you kidding? What happened to the ideal of a color blind society. It is clear CNN does not value nor want that goal to be enacted. It is clear by the allowing of this racist posting that cnn is in favor of a society where we continue to look at the pigment of a person's skin. AND THAT IS A DISGRACE!

    August 27, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. T, FL

    Hey, why not a black, gay, hispanic woman with purple hair and ... (any other minority not covered?)

    August 27, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    more idiocy...thanks Mr. Martin

    August 27, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Edgar, Concord, CA

    Why does CNN even publish this thinly veiled racist commentary?

    August 27, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. David, Columbia, SC

    This is ridiculously shallow, callow, and just plain naive to write an article on promoting someone to a position BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE.

    This is racism. RACISM. Is Mr Martin a high school dropout, or did he get someone to buy him a degree at some backwater college?

    Shaking my head in amazement at the depths to which CNN has plunged....

    August 27, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  10. Henry Miller

    Time for a black attorney general?

    Why does it matter in the slightest whether Gonzales' successor in black? Doesn't it matter a whole lot more that he's honest? That he takes the Constitution seriously? That, unlike Mr Gonzales and the rest of the Bush administration, he respects the rights of American citizens?

    I've no idea what Mr Thompson's qualifications to be Attorney General are; I know nothing of his character. I do know that the color of his skin has no bearing at all on those qualifications or his character.

    That race is, or ought to be, irrelevant has been a tenet or, at least, a goal of American society for half a century. To suggest that Mr Thompson is somehow more qualified to hold the office of Attorney General simply because he's black utterly repudiates that goal.

    August 27, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Michael, Silverdale, WA

    Wouldn't make a single difference. The GOP doesn't get any credit on race, while the Dems can blow their horns on it all the time.

    I'll say Randy Barnett, a law prof who blogs at

    August 27, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. Eric Levoy, N. Reading ,MA

    Anyone who is connected with this government in it's present state is a traitor to the American people republican,democrat,black,white or whatever.
    It has been too long since our government has done the right thing by the American people.The entire Federal Government needs a good cleansing not just a new Attorney general who is nothing more than a mouth piece for this country's elite class..

    August 27, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. Bill, Rockville, Maryland

    "Time for a black attorney general" is a terrible title. Would the new attorney general be a better leader because he (or she) was black? Would he be a better leader if he was white? Hardly! Both premises are ludicrous. Let's stop promoting race as a consideration and start considering who would do the job best. If the result is someone who is black, Irish, handicapped, or Jewish (or all four) then we should celebrate that we found the right person and not promote the premise that he or she satisfies some racist agenda.

    August 27, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  14. Don Cross Paducah, KY

    Another plus? He's African-American?

    Come on man. It's not a plus and not a minus, not at this stage of the game. We're a race/gender neutral nation now. Look what Obama and Clinton are doing! It's the man/woman with the plan not the race or gender.

    August 27, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  15. Zack, Boston, MA

    I've decided that racism only exists in this country because the media wants it to. The media perpetuates it, not the people. All of you "journalists" who write "headlines" such as this one and "stories" such as this one are collectively no better than bottom feeders in a stagnant pond. Take your "credentials" and shove 'em.

    Not a single person in America outside of media circles was thinking to themselves, "Well, I guess now that Alberto is out we can get a BLACK guy in there, because that's what we REALLY need."

    Only the media would think that a change of skin color in office would make a world of difference.

    Maybe I should add my skin color to my resume like CNN does for Larry Thompson's resume:

    * Supervised 13 employees, over half of whom were purple
    * Proficient in all the usual desktop applications
    * Orange skin color, so I'm much more qualified than the aquamarine majority
    * I like horses

    August 27, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  16. Steven, New York City

    His race is an added element? Is affirmative action for presidents next? Oh, wait, it is.

    August 27, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Zack, Boston, MA

    Be careful, folks. As soon as you start posting something that makes sense here, CNN moderates it so they can perpetuate their irrational agenda.

    August 27, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. Greg, Houston

    No black man should even consider the job. Bush has never done a damned thing for black folks so why should one bail him out.

    August 27, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  19. Steve, San Antonio TX

    When are people (especially the media) going to learn that color, religion, gender, etc. are irrelevant!

    We need the "best qualified" person for the job, regardless of anything else they may happen to be, not some "token black" or whatever!

    August 27, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. Susan, dayton, OH

    We should stride for people not based simply on their "qualifications", but should look for the MOST qualified person. Race must never be included as a "qualification" if we are to achieve the goal of a color blind society. Shame on you, Mr. Martin!

    August 27, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  21. Steve

    Somehow CNN only cares if a woman or black man is elected president. Shouldn't we be wanting the best. Again CNN is propaganda, like FOX and MSNBC.

    August 27, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  22. Crescent City, CA

    Time for orange underwear

    The orange underwear are functionally similar to the green underwear, so I guess it's a matter of preference.

    Folks who are partial to orange underwear will probably wear those.

    Not being politically savy, I'd wrongly conclude that choosing an attorney general based solely on qualifications would be a reasonable approach.

    August 27, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  23. John, Caldwell Idaho

    I understand he has the qualifications, I understand that he has done a good job in the past I also understand that both parties have liked him. If he is accepts this job he will have a fery tough job ahead of him. I think he is very qualified for the job but, what I do not understand is what does the fact that he is an African American have to do with him being able to fill the job.

    August 27, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  24. lucifer, pandemonium, hell

    It's time for a transgendered little person-of-color Attorney General.

    Or maybe it's time for a smart and competent one, of a size, shape, color, and gender that's that person's own business.

    August 27, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  25. Danny Thompson, Kokomo, IN

    Hmmmm....all things being equal this candinate is better because he is African-American...

    is racism.

    However, I won't hold that against Larry Thompson just as I don't hold it against Condi Rice. In fact I love Condi Rice and if Larry Thompson is that good beg him to take over.

    I am tired however of media types, the government, and business using race as a qualifying criteria.

    That is blantant racism and needs to be flat out banned no matter what two-faced justification is used for it.

    August 27, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7