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, Niskayuna, NY

    I don't care if our Attorney General is black, white, green, or yellow; just as long as they are honest and will work their butts off for the American people.

    August 28, 2007 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  2. Waldo, Privacy, CA

    I don't see what relevance a person's race has to do with the job of A.G. (why a "Black A.G." is my point, what does that actually MEAN as to the job performance and capability to fulfill the job requirements).

    I'd rather see Ted Olson appointed as A.G. than Chertoff, as to the position otherwise.

    Oh, and Ted Olson would make a "White Attorney General" - just to make an illustration of how foolish mentioning someone's race is as to that (or any) job.

    August 28, 2007 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  3. JIm, Chesapeake VA

    How about rephrasing that title to "it is time to consider a black for attorney general"? The article clearly states that the appointment should be qualifications based first. Race is an "added element" to an already favorable resume.

    I get frustrated when I read polarizing headlines. While the headline needs to draw attention, it doesn't need to divide us.

    August 28, 2007 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  4. Michael W, Orlando FL

    I think that it does not matter who get nominated. While we should have a government that is representative of the people and our diversity, we just witnessed a political lynching of a hispanic Attorney General. Does anyone really believe that the Democrats will be any kinder to an African American?

    August 28, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  5. Lou Tulsa Ok

    A Black AG? Great. Another person put in place because of, not in spite of, his race or gender. I thought "equality" was about removing the stereotypes from the job. Why advocate a particular "category" of individual to fill the job? If the man happens to be black, fine, if he's Hispanic, fine. Just don't put him in place BECAUSE of that. It is an insult to both the candidate and those who pay the taxes to support this nonsense. Next you'll advocate a "woman" for President just because we haven't had one of them either. How about just "qualifications"? Ever heard of them?

    August 28, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. Dave, Mont Vernon, NH

    The law should be blind and society should be colorblind. The most qualified person who is willing to serve should be the next A.G. Period.

    August 28, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  7. Tony Billoni

    "His race is an added element."?? For what? To boost the morale of disadvantaged urban youth? To make middle-of-the-road Reps feel they're helping the black man get ahead. Try sentimentizing how getting an elected Irish-American is a plus. Would you state that getting a Jewish-American is a plus in government? How 'bout a grossly-overweight-American for Atty. General? Lord knows the majority of adults could relate to him/her.

    August 28, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    I don't think that race should even be a factor in consideration for the next AG. What we need, and what the Senate needs to consider when voting for nomination, is someone who will stand for justice and the Constitution and say "shove it" to the administration when they cross the line. If Mr. Thompson can do that, so be it.

    August 28, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  9. Joe Linares

    Rolan Martin.... you need to can this type of stupid remarks, period!

    August 28, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. spinstopper

    "He needs to fight back charges from Democrats that the Justice Department has no credibility"

    Talk about a bias intro.. CNN is the one with credibility problems. Not Bush! Even terrorist know Bush means what he says...

    August 28, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. The Bishop Don "Magic" John Imus, Davis, CA

    I say being white is a plus. Brown could be a plus as well. Not to mention, yellow, pink...Hmm, seems like any race is a plus, which kind of makes race a non-factor.

    August 28, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. Chris Myers, Buffalo, NY

    Leave it to CNN to play the race card.

    Who cares what color the guy is, is he the best qualified? If so, hire him. If not, don't.

    I find it interesting that CNN does not point out that this President, a Republican and Conservative has placed more minorities in high positions than any other President. Including the Liberals.

    I guess Republicans are the party of inclusion.

    August 28, 2007 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Dear Mr. Martin:

    I don't think this is time to bring the race card out.

    As far as making history for the Republicans, I would think Bush has done enough of that already. Short of divine providence nothing has the power to change History for the Bush Administration.

    August 28, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. LeftyLoser

    Don't do it Thompson. The dems, with CNN's help, will surely paint you as an Uncle Tom. They are the real party of bigotry.

    August 28, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. Bukky, Baltimore, MD

    Being that everybody he appoints ends up shamed, disgraced, and discarded. I would thank him not to disgrace any other minority race by touting them as "first" but them actually only being puppets.

    The only one that as stuck with him the whole time is Rice. Though I don't actually like the women, she seems less like a puppet than the rest. Maybe that's b/c she's the only one that may be as smart as Cheney. Also is it just me or is she RARELY ever in the same room as Bush.

    August 28, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. lou tulsa ok

    Roland Martin, whomever he is, apparently uses the CNN platform to further his own agenda. I grew up in the 60's when equal rights weren't. Now we have to read a "commentary" from a guy pushing his own agenda. When did high political positions get to be about race and gender instead of "qualifications"? Apparently Gonzalez was appointed to "elevate" Hispanics. It didn't work, and we all suffer. Now Martin comes along with his axe to grind, and you publish it. What he should concentrate on is ALL Americans, not just a few. We ALL need a good AG. If he's black, so be it, if not, so be it. To make this a quota thing is just plain wrong. If Martin gets to have his say just because he's black, what does that say about his actual credentials? It's time everyone put this race garbage behind us. Look at America. Look at what its gotten us. We're going in the wrong direction over political correctness.

    August 28, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Lee

    I swear, Roland Martin, you know how to stir up a hot mess. Since Larry Thompson has all these credentials why do you find it necessary to throw race into the mix? If you believe he is the best qualified that is all you need to say, but now that wouldn't be controversial would it?

    August 28, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Thomas

    So, race is an "added element" to be considered in the selection of an AG? Really. Gonzalez was a "first," and look how well he turned out. How about get somebody who is qualified to do the job? Crazy idea, but it might have some merit. If Thompson is qualified, then bully for him; however, aren't we all supposed to be color-blind by now? You know – the amount of melanin in one person's skin shouldn't qualify/disqualify them from a position they are worthy of, and all of that. Hey, I hear that there's this Eskimo lawyer that's available for the slot; what a bonus! It'd be a first, right?

    August 28, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. spinstopper

    "I would think Bush has done enough of that already. Short of divine providence nothing has the power to change History for the Bush Administration." – Tricia M PEI

    You can say that again Tricia!

    1)Most diverse administration.
    2)Shortest recession(not even one statistically).
    3)Biggest tax cuts.
    4)Longest economic expansion.
    5)Highest home ownership(all races).
    6)9/11 stewardship!
    7)Afghanistan and Iraq democracies!!
    8)No more terrorist attacks.

    Dems opinion of Bush? Dems attempts at history revision??
    Not in the history books!! (see Roosevelt, Churchill).

    Get over yourself already..

    August 28, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. BSHater, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    To "Spinstopper",
    What color is the sky on your planet?? Really, you must grow a lot of flowers with all the BS I've sen from you.

    Most diverse adminstration? Race doesn't matter – they all lie for Bush

    Biggest tax cuts – for the rich!

    Longest economic expansion – also for the rich.

    Highest home ownership – actually most mortgage defaults

    The best one – 9/11 stewardship – into an unnecessary war in Iraq while the real perpetrators of 9/11 are staging a comeback in Afghanistan. And bin Laden (dead or alive) is nowhere to be found. Didn't Bush say he was going to get him?

    Afghanistan and Iraq democracies? LOL. Why don't you move there?

    No more terrorist attacks – it was eight years between attacks on the WTC. It's only been 6 years since 9/11. Give Bush a chance!

    If you're truly a spinstopper, why don't you talk to Rush, Hannity, O'reilly and the RNC. They're spinning out of control.

    You get over yourself

    August 28, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Anonymous, Salem VA

    Thisi is so typical...every time someone in the "mainstream" screws up, there's always talk of a person of color to come in and "clean up" the mess. Perhpas if more minorities were considered from the onset, we wouldn't have some of these problems!!!

    August 28, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Zack, Boston, MA

    75 comments and it's still unanimous:

    CNN writes a racist article and the people are ticked off about it.

    August 28, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. David, Salinas, CA

    I found the racial elements of this story offensive.

    August 28, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Steve, Tempe, Arizona

    What on earth does RACE have to do with anything?

    Many groups in this country have raised a lot of ruckus over making America a "color-blind" society. Stuff like this doesn't help.

    When will we begin to judge people by their ABILITIES and not by the color of their skin?

    August 28, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Charles L. Morse , Gainesboro TN.

    What would be wrong with a Native American Indian .
    Isn't this Racial thing getting out of hand .

    August 28, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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