Will Larry Thompson Be the Next Attorney General?
We’ll find out soon enough, though, according to the Drudge Report, the former deputy attorney general is a “personal favorite of the president.” In some ways, this characterization is misleading: it makes Thompson seem like a chip off John Ashcroft’s old block — applauded by White House ideologues and disdained by liberal opponents. But that’s far from reality. According to the Minority Law Journal, Thompson counts Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein among his supporters, despite his own defense of Clarence Thomas in 1991. Moreover, Thompson groomed Kent Alexander, a prominent attorney in the Clinton administration.
If appointed, Thompson would become the first African American to lead the Justice Department. This historic possibility, coupled with his reputed moderation (even Talk Left seems to like him), would obviously make him a passable candidate. But, equally important, Bush would appear conciliatory by replacing a controversial figure with an independent one. By contrast, if he were to appoint Alberto Gonzales, he’d likely draw fire, since the White House counsel has connections to Enron and Abu Ghraib. Moreover, Bush previously “stacked” the Texas Supreme Court with Gonzales. These criticisms would drown out the benefits of tapping a Latino — an important voting bloc in the recent election.
Thompson isn’t perfect. In 2002, he was questioned about his involvement with Providian Financial Corporation, a credit card company plagued by Enronesque class-action suits. He also just started at PepsiCo, where he’s surely making more money than in his Justice days. But, if these obstacles can be overcome, then Bush will find himself in a good position.
(Footnote: Can you picture the White House nominating Thompson for Attorney General and Thomas for Chief Justice in the same year? That would be interesting, to say the least….)