Rolling Over in the Grave
I wasn't going to blog on this, since many have already weighed in, and everyone from the right-side of the spectrum pretty much are unified in waxing indignant. And if Coretta Scott King's family were fine with the lack of class on the part of speakers such as Lowery and Carter, then so be it.
But then I thought of a few things, that I haven't heard blogged about.
In afterthought, no one should have been surprised about the politicization of Coretta King's funeral. President Bush, least of all.
And of course I don't mean that it was not inappropriate to discuss her politics and ties to the civil rights movement. Mention of those things are within bounds and it would hardly be called a celebration of her life if one left out her political activism, anymore than it would make sense not to talk about Reagan's political accomplishments at his funeral. But what was tasteless, was the political pot-shots taken at President Bush. A funeral is just not the forum for political partisanship and a show of disrespect for the sitting President...especially when he's sitting right there at the funeral! It is in bad taste, and makes it about the "speakers" and the "spoken of"....and the "spoken of" being that of President Bush over Coretta King.
I said, this probably came as no surprise to President Bush, because we've seen Wellstone moments before from liberals. It happened at the funeral of another civil rights figure, one who has been called the first lady of the civil rights movement: Rosa Park. This is how one speaker, Jesse Jackson, chose to eulogize Rosa Park on November 2nd, 2005 (audio excerpt- also includes Lowery's bombastic bloviation):
Perhaps George Bush who also gave her ceremony can sign the Voting Rights Act and extend them with enforcement powers?
President Bush on yesterday gave homage to Rosa Parks and then put forth to the nation an extreme rightwing judge, antithetical to everything Rosa Parks ever stood for. He put forth an anti-Rosa Parks judge, not unlike last year he put a wreath on Dr. King's graveyard, and the next day, allowed the Supreme Court to kill affirmative action. Whenever he sticks out his hands, there's always something up his sleeves.
Perhaps a White House conference on civil rights, why not 50 years later? Watching bodies float down the rivers of New Orleans, no plan for rescue, no plan for relocation, no plan for reconstruction that's fair. 50 million Americans with no health insurance. The surplus culture for the few and a deficit culture for the masses. Just maybe we need a White House conference on civil rights. Mr. Mayor, why not right now on the river in Detroit, the Rosa Parks Park where we can entomb her body and have the generations unborn know this woman whose sacrifice made America better? Why not now some action to turn our mourning into some living memorial?
And when many Democrats (no...not all, but many) had the good taste (and sense) to lavish praise upon Ronald Reagan during the moment of his passing, when they were his harshest detractors during his Presidency.....did you hear any Republicans speaking at his funeral, taking political cheap shots at the Democrats? Remember: Ronald Reagan died on June 5th, 2004 and his private funeral service was June 11th. It was an incredibly heated election year. Both Parties were fighting tooth and nail for control of the Presidency. The only person who I recall using Reagan's funeral as an opportunity to score a political jab at the opposing side, was Ron Reagan Jr. :
Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference.
This was an obvious, not-so-subtle shot at President Bush. It's as obvious as Jimmy Carter's wiretap comment at Coretta King's funeral. I've been listening to liberals try to spin it, that Carter's insertion about wiretaps had nothing to do with the situation today with the NSA wiretap hearings. Then why include it in his speech? How can anyone be so daft as to believe Carter didn't intentionally mean for parallels subtle and not so subtle to be drawn, between what happened then, and what goes on now? And what a peanut-for-a-brain, chowderhead Carter is (I rarely allow myself to speak so disrespectfully of a former President, but- my God! This man does a lot to earn disrespect), that he'd fail to see the mention of wiretapping the Kings would do more to reflect badly upon Democrats of their era, than the Republican Administration of today.
And it seems former President Peanuthead has a history of impropriety at funerals:
Contrast these liberal speakers with the speech President George W. Bush gave at Coretta King's funeral. Who is the unifier and who is the divider of this nation? Who carried himself with class and graciousness, making the funeral about honoring her; and which keynote speakers behaved with self-righteous political pontificating, making it all about themselves? Who, in the end, scored political points? The one who went there, devoid of political partisanship in his speech; or the ones who went there, engaged in political demagoguery?Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a 13-year-old Rockville, Md., boy who "wrote books of inspirational poems that climbed the bestseller charts," died last week of muscular dystrophy. Among those attending his funeral, the Washington Post reports, was Jimmy Carter:
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, spoke of . . . Mattie's devotion to peace. "He was deeply aware of global affairs," Carter said, recalling that Mattie was in Children's Hospital's intensive care unit when the war in Iraq began last year.
"Mattie burst into uncontrollable sobs and grief," Carter said, and soon after, the former president received a letter from his then-12-year-old friend: "I feel like President Bush made a decision long ago about the war," Mattie wrote. "Imagine if he had spent as much time and energy . . . planning peace."
The letter continued, "Even though I want to talk to Osama bin Laden about peace in the future, I wouldn't want to be alone with him in his cave." The congregation dissolved into laughter.
"In the same letter," Carter added, "he asked if I would join him."
There is a longstanding tradition that ex-presidents do not publicly criticize their successors, a tradition for which Carter has shown such contempt that when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 2002, its members made clear they meant it as a poke in the eye of President Bush and America.
But using a child's funeral as a forum for this kind of attack is a new low. Just when you thought Bill Clinton was the tackiest ex-president, along comes Jimmy Carter to outcrass even him.
With deepest respect to Mattie, his message, however pure and well-intentioned, was a naive and deadly one. Stepanek was, however, a young boy suffering under the burden of a terrible illness.
What is appeaser Jimmy Carter's excuse?
As a footnote, I will add that former President Clinton might have given the best speech delivery. He's always been great at doing so; and thankfully, had the class not to engage in the political swiping and bullying.
Update: Mike's America mentions one I had forgotten about.