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. Steve San Diego, CA

    I don't care if the new Attorney General is purple with yellow polka dots, as long as he enforces the laws of the United States, and works to make the Constitution relevant again.

    August 28, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  2. SVX, WI

    Are you kidding me? Are you black sir? Are you trying to promote your own racist agenda? People like you need to stop looking at Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, or Political Party affiliation, etc when making decisions of this nature. It is about picking the right candidate for the job and one who will protect the rights of the people and the Constitution of the United States. Not about any of the above mentioned items and especially not their Race!! You truly should go back to school and get an education because all you are doing here is breeding racism!

    August 28, 2007 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  3. C. Graham, Charlotte, NC

    As a black man, I'd like to see a black attorney general–someday, but not right now. I don't necessarily trust that any black appointed by President Bush would actually have the best interests of the black community, specifically, at heart.

    One big piece of the Department of Justice is the enforcement of civil-rights laws. After terrorism struck our shores in 2001, the Bush Administration has chipped away at those rights. All Americans have been affected, of course, but black Americans tend to be more acutely affected in situations like this.

    I don't care what color the new AG's skin is. All I care about is that whoever takes the job, he's strong enough to maintain the balance of justice in the face of an administration that feels it is above the Constitution.

    August 28, 2007 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  4. Blake, Nashville, TN

    I agree with what"s been said. It is this continued talk about race mattering that keeps the races divided, Let's just leave it that he's the best one for the "added bonuses."

    August 28, 2007 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  5. Izzy, Queens New York

    What the hell does race have to do with anything? Whoever wrote this article needs a brain surgery.

    August 28, 2007 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  6. Andrew, Los Angeles, CA

    Why do we need a black AG? Are they supposed to be better or somehow less corrupt? We need someone who can get the job done right and restore the confidence in the Justice Department. We don't need someone just to appease minorities or any other group for that matter. We also sure as hell don't need anyone who will be a White House puppet...

    August 28, 2007 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  7. Greg, Dallas, TX

    Of Color, Not of Color. Male, Female. Gay/Straight. Jerw/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/Pagan.

    I don't care what combination as long as he/she is a qualified candidate with at least an ounce of integrity and humility.

    THAT will be a welcomed change!

    August 28, 2007 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  8. Zievfret Heiligenstein

    Roland Martin, some may argue you have "a face for radio".

    But, with this garbage, you clearly have a mind for racism.

    CNN, shame on you for even publishing this garbage.

    August 28, 2007 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  9. Malcolm Wright, Pikeville NC

    Color hasn't mattered in this administration up to now, how can anyone believe it will matter now? President Bush will pick someone he thinks can do a good job, racial politics be damned.

    August 28, 2007 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  10. Kevin , NYC

    Please tell me this article is a joke.

    August 28, 2007 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  11. Bob, Newtown Ct

    Geez, give me a break Roland. How about we just get a competent AG, huh?All I ever hear out of you is the black thing. A different minority at the position just wasn't good enough for you. Add other colors to your black and white crayon set.

    August 28, 2007 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  12. Julius, Sokcho City South Korea

    Truly, if we expect change to take place we need to envaluate the individual nominees for the positon. We need to look for his/her track records, whether or not such person is objective enough to do the job. Race shouldnt even come up, because it shouldn't be the sole consideration if the person is Black or White. When it comes to the Constitution, we need someone with good judgment and his objective enough to face any pressure. I believe Thompson is qualified and if the Congress accept him, then that goes another history made in the Bush administration.

    August 28, 2007 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  13. Dave G. Sherman, Tx

    Why not a blue one? How about "time for a good one," who cares what ethnicity the new AG is as long as he/she is capable of performing their duties well.

    August 28, 2007 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  14. AJP, Cleveland, OH

    What? How about a competent one? Black has nothing to do with it.

    August 28, 2007 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  15. Bill, Laurinburg, NC

    You are kidding ..... aren't you? Why should race be a factor, when this has already proved to be failed practice in our society.

    August 28, 2007 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  16. PC, Jacksonville, Florida

    "...Another plus? He’s African-American..."

    That's right, let's now bring race in as a qualifying factor. When will people finally realize that the racial divide in this country will never end until we treat all matters with full equality - and that means racial classes need to take the first step by proving they can move forward in society solely on their own accomplishments.

    August 28, 2007 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  17. clark hillhouse 109 hutchinson st hightstown nj

    why do we always bring up race gust get one that is honest and will inforce all the laws not pick and choose

    August 28, 2007 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  18. Jack Hammell, Leavenworth, Kansas

    I think that it's too bad that, in this day and age, we still have to mention race. Raising the issue of race simply invites debate, and distracts from what is important.

    Race is and, I think, should be discarded as a factor. I would prefer to read or hear a nomination based solely on professional qualifications. Then, when the candidate appears for confirmation, his or her race – whatever it is – would be apparent, but would be relegated to its proper position: irrelevant.

    I hope that I live long enough to see the human race get past race and every other truly natural trait, and become confident enough to focus on what matters: the individual's God-given gifts and what he or she has done with them.

    August 28, 2007 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  19. macon

    Quit putting color on appointments and elections. Why not ask for the most qualified?

    August 28, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  20. Jen Bradley, Boulder, CO

    I agree with the no race issue. Race should not be a factor in such a top political hiring; good leaders and idiots come in all shades. But in this situation, an African-american GA would also probably set black people back. Bush and his administration are a sinking Titanic. They take down everyone who gets involved with them.

    August 28, 2007 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  21. Singapore

    When are you liberals going to get beyond skin color? How about picking the most qualified person?

    Also do you think that the democrats would be less inclined to drag a black man' name through the mud than a mexican?

    August 28, 2007 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  22. Mark Wilder Tulsa Ok

    What happened to "qualifications" for top government jobs? Much has been made of Gonzalez being the "first" Hispanic to hold the office of AG. Look at how that ended. Now, you want to have a black in that position? Even if the man is qualified, why add the "distinction" of his race? Wouldn't someone rather get the job because he was qualified, rather than because he is a "qualified black" or a "qualified whatever"? This is ridiculous. Hire the man because he is qualified, not because he fills some minority "vision of success". America is where it is now because of stupid thinking. Next you'll suggest we vote in a "woman" as President just because we haven't had one of them yet either. How stupid can you get?

    August 28, 2007 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  23. John Guthrie Yates, Levittown, NY

    just one problem, Roland Martin and CNN aren't part of the nominating process. You report not create it or manage it, that's all. You had no business running that artical. Free speech? I don't think so, nothing free about yours with the tire ad above it ad free speech is only guarenteed to the people (citizens). CNN is not a citizen and you are acting as a paid employee of CNN.

    August 28, 2007 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  24. Bob - Bellingham Mass.

    It's not time for a black, brown. white or purple attorney general. It's time for a honest, law abiding one.

    August 28, 2007 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  25. Dan, Clifton NJ

    This is a good example how people think, in racial terms. How about a person as Atterny General that has a good record and will be good for the country and not what color he is.

    August 28, 2007 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
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