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Bill Richardson: Is Attorney General the Peoples' Lawyer or Just a Political Flack?

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I think Warren Olney's show, "To the Point," airs in the Washington, DC area again tonight at 10 p.m. It aired earlier today at 2 p.m. Eastern and 11 a.m. Pacific. Bill Richardson is on for the last 10 minutes -- and Richardson is just superb.

While I have written both critically and positively about New Mexico's Governor, Richardson was the finest I have heard today in just ten minutes of air time.

Among the many blunt but insightful comments Richardson shared were that "Attorney General Gonzales needed to decide if he was the nation's lawyer, the peoples' lawyer, or whether he was just the President's political flack."

Richardson did not feel that matters that were essentially "political" should be shielded by executive privilege. Unless it was a matter of national security, Governor Richardson saw the effort to shield Congressional oversight from the Gonzales attorney firings as inappropriate.

On the Middle East, Richardson got the frame exactly right. He didn't just focus on whether the surge would work or fail (though he called the surge "tragic"), he said that what needed to happen was a reconciliation process inside Iraq as well as a regional stakeholders gathering -- including Syria and Iran.

I didn't understand what Richardson meant when he said that we needed to give Iran its "fuel cycle," though I think what he intended to say was to find ways to give Iran access to nuclear fuel for a civilian nuclear energy capacity. Russia has been trying to do something along these lines -- but thus far Iran has rebuffed the offers.

Essentially, Richardson thinks that the same kind of regional deal-making that the Iraq Study Group called for is what we should be enthusiastically pursuing in the region.

All in all, Bill Richardson's comments were excellent -- and were the type of quick hit common sense that other candidates should try out.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note