FIVE QUESTIONS WITH Alberto Gonzales
Can you share with the Bush-Cheney Alumni what post-Administration life looks like for you in your role as Dean of the Belmont University College of Law?
As Dean of a relatively new law school I spend much of my time working to make our vision of a first rate institution into reality. Similar to leading organizations such as the Justice Department, as Dean I also spend time dealing with administrative matters such as personnel and budgets. However, I also try to be in the classroom every semester where I can share the wisdom gained from my experiences with our students. I hope that in this role I am helping to prepare the next generation of leaders.
You’ve recently released your new book, True Faith and Allegiance: A Story of Service and Sacrifice in War and Peace. What prompted you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?
I hope readers will better understand the historic complicated issues we dealt with on a daily basis. Like many of us in the Bush Administration much of my professional focus after 9/11 was on the War on Terror. The book was timed to be released around the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I expect readers will come away with a better understanding of the reasons behind the decisions made by the Administration and an appreciation of how hard all of us worked to get it right in defense of our country.
What is your fondest memory from your time working with President Bush?
Early in the Bush Administration, months before the 9/11 attacks, President Bush gave me a personal tour of the residence, and afterwards we stood alone on the Truman Balcony. Looking out over the South Lawn I remember feeling proud that George W. Bush was President and I felt privileged to be alongside this good man who just happened to hold the most powerful office in the world.
You’ve had the opportunity to work in many positions of leadership throughout your career. What is one principle or trait that you find to be common among great leaders?
There are several common principles or traits in every great leader, including courage, vision and wisdom. However, there are very few jobs or vocations where integrity matters more. This is the most powerful position on earth, and it is important that this power not be abused for personal or political gain. Integrity ensures that this great power will be constrained by the limits of the Constitution. I was happy and pleased to have served with a man of remarkable integrity.
What is your proudest moment from your years in the Administration?
On the evening of the 9/11 attacks Marine One brought President Bush home to the White House. Karen Hughes and I stood on the Oval Office portico and watched as the President’s helicopter landed on the South Lawn. We greeted the President when he got off the helicopter and followed him into the Oval Office. No one who looked like me had ever advised the President on the legal issues that arose that day. I was proud to be there to serve with our Commander in Chief in defense of our country and freedom everywhere.