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If you like Alberto R. Gonzales's story, you might also like:
David Boies,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Rudolph Giuliani,
Anthony M. Kennedy,
George J. Mitchell,
Antonia Novello,
Anthony Romero,
Barry Scheck and
Antonio Villaraigosa

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Alberto Gonzales
Alberto Gonzales
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Alberto Gonzales Interview (page: 6 / 6)

Former Attorney General of the United States

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  Alberto Gonzales

What do you know now about leadership or achievement that you didn't know when you were younger?

Oh, I knew very little when I was younger. You think you know so much when you're younger, and as you get older, you realize how little you know. You mature and you look back and you begin to realize what is really important in your life. It really is our relationships, particularly family relationships that are most important. At the end of the day, I'll get very old and I'll die, and the plaques and the awards won't mean much to anyone, but my legacy will live with my kids, and hopefully my grandkids.

I remember once when I was campaigning to remain on the Texas Supreme Court, this was in 2000 -- and I was being interviewed by the Houston Chronicle (editorial) board, and they asked me, "Why in the world are you doing this? Why did you even go into public service? You were at Vincent and Elkins, you were doing great, and now you're out here having to ask for our endorsement in order to remain on the bench for a salary that's well beneath what you were earning before." And I told the story that if you go into the office of the Texas Secretary of State, there is this lobby, and on the walls are the pictures of all of the former secretaries of state, and I said, "You know, at some point in time, my children's' children and their children are going to be able to walk into that office, and they will never have known me, but they'll know that their grandfather or great-grandfather was the Secretary of State," and I said that was important for me. Not because it's important to be remembered, but I think it's important to make a difference in one's life and to make a mark. And so if I can do something to have shown that I made a difference, that I made a mark in the history of this world, to me, that's important. That's good stuff.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Looking ahead, what most concerns you about America as we head into the 21st century?

I do worry about the future safety of our country. I think the attacks of 9/11 are not a unique circumstance. There are still those whose intent it is to destroy our way of life, to commit an assault on our values, and that worries me. I worry for my children. They will never have the same kind of life that I've had. They won't grow up in a world like mine. That's one of the reasons I'm certainly motivated, as I know our President is, to do what we can to protect America. We all have to live our lives as normally as possible; that's what we want for every citizen. But I think life is going to be a little bit different now, and that's just a sad reality.

What would you like your legacy to be? How would you like to be remembered?

Well, primarily, I would love to be remembered as a good husband, a loving father. You know, I want to be a successful Attorney General. It's too great an opportunity to squander. It would be a shame to be given this position with these authorities and not do something pretty terrific for our country. Our President, during our second cabinet meeting, told his cabinet that he didn't want us to play little ball. He wanted us to play big ball, to do great things, to be bold, and that's what I intend to do. We're here to do something, to leave a mark, and I hope to do that as Attorney General.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

One last question. What would you like to do that you haven't done? What do you see beyond this job? It can't last for more than another three years.

Alberto Gonzales Interview Photo
It won't last, and that's okay. We get to go back to Texas and enjoy life. I don't know what will happen. I assume that if I do a good job as Attorney General, everything else will take care of itself. I have been very fortunate in my life. I've made good decisions, I've had good advice from people around me. I've had God's help, I know, and so I'm confident. What will be will be.

When young people turn to you for advice about their lives, about their careers, what do you say to them?

Normally, I say, "Get an education. Get the best training you can to put yourself in the best position if the next George W. Bush comes along to give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A lot of kids are already well educated and highly motivated. I think I would try to make them understand what is really important, the priorities in life. In pursuing achievement, what is really important at the end of the day will not be the achievement itself, but those around you who love you and will share in that achievement with you.

That's great. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

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This page last revised on Jun 29, 2013 17:40 EST
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