The Swift-Boating of Coretta Scott King's Funeral
Four U.S. presidents were in attendance at the funeral, including President Bush. Among Reverand Lowery's statements was this one, which was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation:
We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. [Standing Ovation] But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor.
Former President Jimmy Carter spoke as well. He mentioned that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been the subject of wiretapping in the name of national security. (At the behest of J. Edger Hoover, who thought one of King's associates was a communist sympathizer, then Attorney General Bobby Kennedy signed an order allowing King's phones to be tapped. Years later it was revealed that Hoover had been bugging King's hotel rooms and more -- without Kennedy's or any court approval.)
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin spoke after President Bush.
[She] describ[ed] how Coretta Scott King spoke out against "the senselessness of war" with a voice that was heard "from the tintop roofs of Soweto to the bomb shelters of Baghdad."
Tonight, right wingers are blasting the speakers at Corretta Scott King's funeral for insulting Bush and making comparisons to Paul Wellstone's funeral. (If you must read them, Seeing the Forest has a round-up.) They are charging that the Democrats shamelessly politicized the funeral and went out of their way to insult Bush.
This is all nonsense. The tributes were appropriate. They were on topics not only relevant, but central to the lives and work of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr. I'm wondering why Bush was granted speaking privileges to begin with? Their lives have nothing in common and I doubt they were close friends.
Rather than read the silly attacks by the right, read John at Americablog:
How dare a black man not know his place at a funeral, they'll say. As if the Republican party and its surrogates have any right whatsoever to speak on behalf of Mrs. King, to tell black America what they can and cannot do to honor one of their most revered leaders.
Why was President Bush even there? Was it because Clinton and Jimmy Carter were going? As late as last Friday, Bush's staff said he planned to speak in New Hampshire today. Then, Saturday, they announced his change of plans.
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said in an e-mail message on Saturday that the change had been made because "the funeral arrangements were only very recently finalized" and the White House had not been ready to make an announcement until then. Mr. McClellan said "the president and Mrs. Bush are honored to be attending."
But Bishop Eddie Long, who will be officiating at the funeral services at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, said in a telephone interview on Saturday that he had initially heard from the King family that Mr. Bush would not be attending and that he planned to send Mrs. Bush and his father, the former president, instead. Mr. Long said he found out only on Saturday morning that Mr. Bush would be present after all.....The president, he said, made the right decision. "I'm sure that somebody gave him some counsel," he said.
President Bush's poll numbers among African-Americans was minimal to begin with and sank lower after Katrina. Did he view this event as an opportunity to honor Mrs. King or to shore up Republican support among blacks?
The remarks made about weapons of mass destruction and wiretapping would have been made by the speakers honoring Mrs. King if Bush had not been there. Why should anyone have had to alter the content of their planned remarks just because Bush decided to attend? The service was to honor Mrs. King and her life, not Bush. If President Bush's toes got stepped on during the course of it, maybe he should rethink his policies and get in touch with the views of the ten thousand others who paid tribute to Mrs King in Atlanta -- as well as millions more watching the news coverage of the funeral tonight at home.
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