February 8, 2006

Politics at the funeral.

It's not surprising that some of the eulogizing went political at the funeral for Coretta Scott King. It would have been better to pretend that President Bush's attendance at this 6-hour event was not itself political. But, of course, it was. So the Rev. Joseph Lowery said a little something about Iraq? Let it go.

And then there was Bill Clinton:
Mr. Clinton began by saying, "I'm honored to be here with my president and my former presidents." Then he paused briefly and gestured toward Mrs. Clinton, his unspoken words seeming to suggest that he wanted to say future president, too. When the crowd began cheering, Mr. Clinton laughed and said, "No, no, no."
It's most effective by far to just tastefully gesture at politics. No one can prove that he meant to do that, but, of course, he meant to do that. Smoothly played!


Sloanasaurus said...

Althouse asks us to "let it go."

Good advice. However, I was less offended by the references to Iraq then the implied blame these so- called civil rights leaders put on "conservatives" in the country for the poverty and status of African Americans. It's always the white-man's fault.

Imagine the outrage if at a public funeral for the dead firefighters of 9/11, for example, speaker after speaker hinted that the Democrats in attendance were weak on defense, thus implying that the deaths of the firefighters were the fault of the Democrats....would it be true?

Pete said...


Not to get into a contest of who is more political but you couldn't expect W to not attend this funeral, could you? And how many political points do you think he scored with the opposition by attending? I'd say zilch. No, the best he could do is attend and quietly take the slings and arrows that surprisingly came his way. In my view, it was unseemly to use the occasion to attack Bush and his policies. (And, my what a selective memory we have: Carter and his nod to illegal wiretapping that was authorized by Robert F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Johnson, by the way, couldn't see fit to attend MLK's funeral, but then maybe he wasn't playing politics and just didn't want to go.)

That being said, I wonder how many points the Democrats scored with their opposition after this show? About as many as Bush. So it's standoff, but I can't help but think the Democrats look even worse after such a showing.

Palladian said...

Anyone remember Senator Wellstone's memorial service?

PDS said...

I hope nobody reads a poem about missing weapons of mass destruction at my funeral, whether it is done with a political intent or not.

tcd said...

Pete, you are absolutely right. The President had to attend the funeral. Can you imagine what would be said if he didn't attend the funeral? It's a case of damn if he did and damn if he didn't.

Bruce Hayden said...

I hate political funerals, and the King one was one of the worst.

I had to live through one at a state level last Sat. It was for a long time friend of our family from church who was probably the preeminent educator in CO over the last 30 years, and the politicians were there in abundance. The tone was set when former Gov. Lamm started off the eulegies from the audience. It turned a 45 minute service into an hour and 45 minutes, and the reception line afterwords was another hour (which I thankfully missed).

Bruce Hayden said...

We debated the funeral ad nauseum yesterday at polipundit.com, with many bemoaning the politics and debating the specifics of the life of Mrs. King's husband (and, to a certain extent hers).

Dr. King has been dead long enough that he has become an icon. Most of us have long forgotten his blemishes: his adulteries, his opposition to the war in Vietnam, and his socialism. What we remember is his brave stand on racism and segregation.

I suggested that in 50 years, schoolchildren will still be reading his "Dream" speech in class, with really no knowledge of his weaknesses. His legacy is really that dream of a color blind society so well articulated in that speech.

But no surprise that those at the funeral speaking politically tried to hitch their political causes to his wife, and, thus, to him. Now, he is much bigger than he was in life, and they were merely trying to advance their causes by leveraging off that.

Jacques Cuze said...

It's not surprising that some of the eulogizing went political at the funeral for Coretta Scott King. It would have been better to pretend that President Bush's attendance at this 6-hour event was not itself political. But, of course, it was. So the Rev. Joseph Lowery said a little something about Iraq? Let it go.

It's offensive that you would let it go. It's patronizing and condescending. And it diminishes a man who as fought a great deal more than you for civil rights, for understanding between races and against war.

When you write that It's not surprising that some of the eulogizing went political would you clarify your statement? Are you saying that it's not surprising because speaking about a friend's desires, hopes, goals, and interests for the world are a natural part of a memorial? Or are you joining the partisan bigotted white conservative view of tsk, tsking?

Shame on you for letting this go. What you should be doing is listening and trying to understand his words.

Don't enable these thugs with your words, "let it go." And in your own echo chamber, please explain to your readers how you wish to be remembered at your memorial (many years in the future.) With kind but bland and inoffensive words, or with words that cut to who you were and what you stood for and what you would want to see happen?

Do not go gentle into that good night

Ann Althouse said...

I realize Bush didn't have much choice, but that is because he WAS making a political decision. The political choice was clear.

Wade_Garrett said...

Leaving politics aside for the moment, does it bother anybody else that one of the musical performers at the funeral was Michael Bolton? Does this mean the Dream is dead?

a spoonful weighs a ton said...

terry, I'm sure you realize that Michael Bolton has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between the races. So, no it does not bother me at all nor should it. Michael Bolton is an American hero, and one day presidents will be attending his funeral.

Gaius Arbo said...

Without dwelling on the issue, using a funeral as a political bash-fest is rude. The moderate majority did not like it with Wellstone, and they won't like it this time.

Frankly, I suspect Clinton's little intentional slip likely did more damage than good. But we'll see.

Charles said...

Anyone notice Carter and his senile mumblings about how democrats were bugging and surveilling Martin Luther King? Or is that gone in short term memory?

Or that LBJ skipped Martin Luther King's funeral completely?

PSoTD said...

Best post I've seen on this topic.

ChrisO said...


I'd be more impressed if you had linkled to a non-partisan web site when discussing Wellstone's funeral. The real shame of that funeral was the way in which the right tried to gain political advantage by lying about what went on, and the media following along and reporting their untruths as gospel.

When I think of what MLK went through in his life, one of the things that is prominent is the way our government treated him like the enemy. He was wiretapped by the FBI, and that's a well-known fact. I've only read excerpts, but I haven't seen anywhere that Carter mentioned Bush when referring to this. Whose fault is it that when someone mentions illegal wiretapping, we automatically think of Bush? All the caterwauling that Carter didn't acknowledge that Bobby Kennedy authorized the wirtaps. Well, he also didnn't blame the Republicans. People are using his remarks as a canvas to add their own interpretations.

And Bruce, I'm not surprised that you consider MLK's opposition to Viet Nam a "blemish." But has it occurred to you that people haven't forgotten it, but rather admire him more for it?

"But no surprise that those at the funeral speaking politically tried to hitch their political causes to his wife, and, thus, to him." This is the part people don't seem to understand. Those were her causes. She was a very savvy woman, and kept MLK's legacy alive. I'm sorry that Bush had to wander into a gathering of people who felt about him and his policies the way Coretta King did, but that's life.

The Right had a lot of success with the Wellstone nonsense, and they're hoping to exploit King's funeral in the same way. They're the one's who are cynically exploiting her funeral for their gains. Kate O'Beirne goes on Hardball to declare how shocked she is. When do you suppose is the last time Kate O'Beirne gave a second's thought to Coretta Scott King?

I think this comment from the right wing Free Republic says a lot: "Carter was manipulating ignorant blacks in their time of suffering."

Palladian said...

"I'd be more impressed if you had linkled to a non-partisan web site when discussing Wellstone's funeral."

It was his memorial service, I don't know what his funeral was like. I linked to a partisan site because only a partisan would make the points Barnes made about why the memorial service was distasteful to many people. It was a partisan service and therefore required a partisan response.

Art said...

I predict the first words out of Katie Couric's mouth tomorrow morning will be : "Outrage: Did Democrats go too far at Coretta King's funeral. Bill O'Reilly says they did."

Dems have to learn the rules of combat: Republicans get to come at you with AK 47s and machetes. You have to fight back with kendo sticks or face charges of "over reacting".

RogerA said...

Gee--does any one wonder what Mrs. King's wishes were? and were they respected? Seems to me that a six hour funeral is over the top just in terms of the time involved--I second the thought: everybody let it go, and lets just move on....:)

The Jerk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Jerk said...

Dr. King has been dead long enough that he has become an icon. Most of us have long forgotten his blemishes:

Meh, happens all the time. See Reagan, Ronald W.

ChrisO said...


I have to disagree. There were a lot of reports in the mainstream press about the Wellstone memorial service that repeated the Republican talking points. Here's the lead of the cnn.com piece: "The partisan tone of the memorial service for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone stirred anger Wednesday in some Republicans, political consultants and radio talk show hosts who say some of the comments and behavior were inappropriate."

Republicans, political consultants and radio talk show hosts? Jeez, I don't know how those Republican talking points made their way into the press. I hardly think Fred Barnes was the only one crarying water on this story.

Jake said...

I find it ironic that Martin Luther King and his wife achieved fame by rebelling against laws written and enforced by Democrats.

And I find it ironic that the "secret government surveillance" was done by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

The Jerk said...

I find it ironic that Jake appears to be unaware of the Southern Strategy and thinks the parties' respective positions on racial issues are the same as they were in the Jim Crow era.

Lets see how long it takes someone to parrot the Robert Byrd talking point.

Palladian said...

What, that Byrd was a Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan? It's not a talking point, it's a fact, an embarrassing one.

Polly want a cracker. A big, old ex-Kleagle cracker.

Jake said...

The jerk:

What party refuses to give police protection to minorities in our major urban areas? What party gives minorities terrible schools and fights any hint of school reform in those cities.

What party refuses to give adequate city services to minority neighbor hoods? What party attacks anyone who tries to help black people realize their dreams of a better life especially if the person speaking out is black.

The answer to all of those questions is the Democrat Party.

Seven Machos said...

Isn't it possible (and I'm specifically speaking to Mr./Ms. Chris O. here) that both Republicans and Democrats seek to use deaths and funerals and actions at funerals by their people on the other political side for political gain? Is it really fair and is it remotely accurate to say that Republicans use these kinds of things for political gain but Democrats don't?

It's always amazing to me to see how people will see fault in the other but praise the very same behavior, or at worst excuse it, when "their people" do the same thing.

Fake word verification: nsncrndblndd

Brando said...

It would have been better to pretend that President Bush's attendance at this 6-hour event was not itself political.

I'm sure as Bush was sitting there that he was trying to prentend his approval ratings among african americans wasn't at or around %0.

Poor Bushie boy. He's got alot of pretending to do these days... pretending most of the country trusts him and thinks he's doing a heckuva job, pretending there were WMD in Iraq and that Saddam was responsible for 9/11, pretending we're winning in Iraq and winning the war on terrorism, pretending the deficit is under control, pretending he's got a plan to solve the health care crises, pretending he's solving our addiction to foreign oil, pretending he never had any relations with man Mr. Lewinsky er Abramhoff. That's gotta be hard work, really hard work, all that pretending.

Bad on the all those speakers at the funeral who didn't want to pretend and play nice. Bad on them!!!!

ChrisO said...

Seven Machos

So far we've discussed the Republicans accusing the Dems of playing politics with the King funeral and the Wellstone Memorial service. And somehow the burden is on me to concede that both parties do the same thing? I don't get it.

The Jerk said...

Jake's silly cliches are nonarguments, so I'll ignore them. And, of course, one ex-racist in a party doesn't tar the whole party. In any event, I doubt that principle is one that the GOP would like to see widely deployed. It's interesting, however, to see that Jake knows better than the overwhelming majority of black Americans what's best for them.

monkeyboy said...

Well, you do remember the vicious partisan attacks and celebratory atmosphere during Reagan’s funeral.

Thorley Winston said...

So far we've discussed the Republicans accusing the Dems of playing politics with the King funeral and the Wellstone Memorial service. And somehow the burden is on me to concede that both parties do the same thing? I don't get it.

Well evidently you seem to have forgotten the part where Rick Kahn, Jimmy Carter, and Joseph Lowry were secretly under the influence of the Karl Rove Mind Control Satellite™.

Other than that, exploiting funerals as an opportunity to score cheap political points on the other party seems to be pretty much an exclusively Democratic thing.

Craig Ranapia said...


I certainly do remember Paul Wellstone's crudely politicised memorial service, but I also remember that Wellstone was also (as far as I'm aware) the only Democratic senator who attended the funeral of Barry Goldwater and was scrupulous in not using it as an occasion to score partisan points back in D.C.

And, sorry, Professor Althouse I don't buy your attempt at equvalence here. There are times when the President of the United States has to act as a national leader, not a party figurehead with one eye on the news wires and the other on the next polling cycle. If President Bush had used Mrs. King's funeral as an opportunity to hit the talking points de jour, he would have been roundly criticised by Democrats and (IMO) deservedly so. I know we live in an age of the permanent campaign and the O Fortuna! news cycle, but I don't think I'm the only who thinks politics should stop at the edge of an open grave.

RogerA said...

Seems to me its an empirical question about which party uses what funerals for partisan posturing. Anyone have any reseach? Looks like a simple content analysis exercise.

ATMX said...


Republicans play politics at funerals? Maybe. But did I see anyone bashing Democrats at Reagan's funeral? No. Funerals for political leaders are political in nature, but when you use them as a forum for bashing your political opposition, you are taking things too far. And when lefties such as yourself keep rationalizing and justifying the behaviour of Democrats that the public finds obnoxious, all that will happen is Democrats will continue to do so and at the same time wonder why they keep losing elections.

And Brando, you are a moron. The great hero Clinton and his adminstration made the same claims regarding the presense of WMDs in Iraq. It was his adminstrations belief that they continued to exist that led to the continued positioning of forces in the Gulf region, which obviously put them in harms way as witnessed by barracks bombings in Saudi Arabia and the attack on the Cole.

Goesh said...

I for one kept waiting for Fritz Mondale to appear and hobble up to the podium too. I'm surprised he wasn't put up for show again at another wake/funeral. "Say! Where am I? Who is that dead woman? Why isn't Billy here, Jimmy?" Some more DNC sleaze couldn't have hurt, that's for sure.

Thorley Winston said...

I find it ironic that Jake appears to be unaware of the Southern Strategy and thinks the parties' respective positions on racial issues are the same as they were in the Jim Crow era.

Well let’s see, Republicans were the party that was originally opposed to government discriminating against citizens on the basis of race (when it was called Jim Crow) and are still the party opposed to government discriminating on the basis of race (when it is called affirmative action).

Democrats were the party that supported governmental discrimination on the basis of race (when it was called Jim Crow) and remain the party that supports governmental discrimination on the basis of race (when it is called affirmative action).

Looks like the parties have pretty much kept their respective positions on racial issues.

ChrisO said...

craig ranapia

Could you please detail for me the way in which Wellstone's memorial service was "crudely politicized?" I'm curious as to how much of your statement is based on fact and how much is based on Republican spin.

reader_iam said...

It saddens me, a bit, to see the comments starting to slide into sharpness and a bit of name calling.

May I quote Coretta Scott King:

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, ... a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."

"Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

"Every King holiday has been a national "teach-in" on the values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, which are so desperately needed to unify America. It is a day of intensive education and training in Martin’s philosophy and methods of nonviolent social change and conflict-reconciliation. The Holiday provides a unique opportunity to teach young people to fight evil, not people, to get in the habit of asking themselves, "what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?"

reader_iam said...

Interesting how Coretta Scott King herself is getting lost in the debate over Clinton vs. Bush antics.

Brando said...

hmmmm, atmx, the last time I checked Clinton and his administration didn't invade Iraq. Plus it's not like Bush said: "Hey I'm invading Iraq because Clinton and his Administration thinks there are WMD there."

In any case, this is the same canard--"Clinton thought there were WMD too"--that Cheney is fond of using. The fact is that the inspections and the sanctions had neutralized Saddam as a threat. Oh yeah, Saddam was a bad man, but he was not even remotely on the order of the immanent-mushroom-cloud-apocalyptic threat that he was made out to be. Not even REMOTELY. The entire friggin international community was screaming this, people within our very own intelligence community were saying this, and guess what...it was true.

Bush couldn’t have waited a few more months to be sure? No, to hell with the facts and the international community and trillions and trillions of dollars and with catching Bin Ladin and with civil liberties, Bush wanted this war in Iraq and he got it and thus he is responsible for it.

But we've been round and round this before. Atmx, if you want to engage in make believe, there are plenty of others on this blog who will build rupublican sand castles with you. Enjoy!

Jacques Cuze said...

More Inappropriate Funeral Behavior -- These people are shocking. Politics, at Martin Luther King's funeral!It is now for us, all the millions of the living who care, to take up his torch of love. It is for us to finish his work, to end the awful destruction in Vietnam, to root out every trace of race prejudice from our lives, to bring the massive powers of this nation to aid the oppressed and to heal the hate-scarred world.

Ann Althouse said...

Craig Ranapia said..."And, sorry, Professor Althouse I don't buy your attempt at equvalence here."

Please quote something I wrote that you disagree with. I honestly can't understand what you're talking about. I don't like that the funeral was politicized. I'm just not surprised that it was, and I'm not going to get upset about it.

Seven Machos said...

I love it! For the representatives of the Loony Left here, Coretta Scott King's funeral has descended into an excuse to attack Bush OVER IRAQ!

By the way, are you SURE Clinton didn't invade Iraq? I guess daily flying over the country north and south of Baghdad and bombing things on a usual basis is not an invasion. Okay.

Anyway, I am a Republican and I think Coretta Scott King was a great American. It's sad that she's dead.

Jacques Cuze said...


I thought I would help you out. I am not sure what you think art is for, or lawyering is for, or professoring, or memorializing is for, but since we know you don't like politics, I thought you might appreciate reading the Newt/Orwell/PC Gopac memo in the original

This is the document that formed the language and the arguments that you find most persuasive.most swayed by.

See ya in Room 101, we'll recognize you, you'll be holding the rats.

Aspasia M. said...

This discussion is sad. It's sad when funerals become cynical photo-ops.

I think that friends and family of Mrs. King get to say whatever they want to about her life and beliefs as long as they are honest about who King was and what she believed.

If it is a fair representation of King's beliefs, then everyone else should be respectful. And if you didn't like what she believed, then leave the family and freinds to mourn alone.

Seven Machos said...

Gooey Duck -- Just out of curiosity, who was being cynical by attending? Bush? Clinton? Clinton?

I'm not sure what you mean but I think, clearly, many people on the left and the right think that only the OTHER SIDE can be cynical. They, of course, are pure of heart.

Is it not possible that everyone there was there to honor the deceased spouse of an American World Historical Figure?

Gaius Arbo said...

Not to belabor the point, but even Kerry thought the Dems flubbed on Wellstone.


As was said above: politics should stop at an open grave. This should have been an event to celebrate HER life, not play political games.

It's over and done now, so I agree - let it drop.

ChrisO said...

For those who are so offended by the political nature of Coretta Scott King's funeral, please follow this link

and see what MLK had to say at the funeral of the little girls killed in the Birminham church bombing. Not only is it overtly political, it is a beautiful piece.

Then tell me again why the exact same approach was so innappropriate at his wife's funeral.

Seven Machos said...

So if Martin Luther King was overtly political at a funeral, that makes it okay. Is that your argument, Chris? "Martin Luther King did A, so A is good, right, and tasteful always."

Brilliant, dude!

Aspasia M. said...

I think it was cynical for anyone to go who wasn't attending to support and respect King's life and her family. Friends and family should be at the funeral. People who are sincerely sad that Mrs. King is dead should be at the funeral. People who feel sympathy for her family should be at the funeral.

I'm going to a funeral this weekend for a man who died suddenly from a brain tumor. He has three children and a widow. I don't think anyone should go who isn't going to be there to help remember this man and to support his family.

I think going to a funeral for political reasons is rather goulish. (No, it's not suprising, but I still find it repulsive.)

Brando said...

By the way, are you SURE Clinton didn't invade Iraq?

Wait a minute! That was CLINTON who stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln under the "Mission Accomplished" USS Abraham Lincoln shortly after invading Iraq. Oh my God! The left wing libural media made it out like George W. Bush is responsible for the massive failure Iraq has been and contintues to be. Damn, it was CLINTON all along. Can we impeach Clinton AGAIN now that he is out of office?

Aspasia M. said...

So if y'all want to argue about Iraq - why doesn't someone ask the obvious question:

What did Mrs. King think about Iraq?

I don't know the answer to this. I do know that she's barely cold in her grave and people are trying to "spin" the meaning of her life. So what did the woman actually believe? What did she work for?

Craig Ranapia said...


Um, I actually watched CNN's coverage (that well known GOP spin machine) where the Senate Majority leader - who was paying his respects to a colleague - was hissed at, and even Wellstone's own son is on the record as saying some of the orations were - in retrospect - inappropriately partisan for a public memorial service as opposed to a Mondale campaign rally. Hard as this might be for hyper-partisans of either camp to believe, I admired Paul Wellstone the man without agreeing with his politics and thought someone who was deeply, and genuinely, respected across the political spectrum deserved better.

As I said above, it's not how Wellstone himself treated the death of his Senate colleague - and liberal bogeyman - Barry Goldwater. And all credit to him. It's called decency and civility, and it's rare enough that I'll take it - and praise it - wherever I can find it.

And Professor Althouse, I can quote you: "It would have been better to pretend that President Bush's attendance at this 6-hour event was not itself political. But, of course, it was. So the Rev. Joseph Lowery said a little something about Iraq? Let it go."

Obviously we have to agree to disagree on this, but if President Bush had asserted a right of reply to "say a little something about Iraq" - or the response to Hurricane Katrina or challenge Kanye West to a duel on the West Lawn - I'd have found it euqally worthy of criticism.

Perhaps I'm a little naive to believe that there are occasions where when the party politics get put to one side for a couple of hours, and standing beside open graves are among them. But that's a form of naivete I'm very comfortable with.

Seven Machos said...

Brando -- This thread is about the tastefulness of political statements at Coretta Scott King's funeral, and about whether political figures should have attended.

Do you realize that you sound like a raving moonbat when you bring your views of the Iraq War in this forum? What on earth does the "Mission Accomplished" banner on a battleship have to do with Coretta Scott King's funeral?

It's really amazing to me that lefties like Brando have become so unhinged and unable to have a reasonable conversation. Perhaps this is why, even though the Republican Congress hasn't really accomplished many of its stated goals and even though President Bush's administration can be justly criticized for a variety of errors by people from all political viewpoints, the Left hasn't been able to win a nationwide election (or many statewide elections).

Yelling and screaming isn't helping you, Brando, particularly in such an inappropriate forum. Reasonable people often change their approaches when they see that the current approach is failing. Unreasonable, crazy people just keep doing the same thing, vainly hoping for a different result.

Aspasia M. said...

After attending several funerals lately, I think the important thing is to be truthful about the deceased person and what she believed was important.

The bereaved often feel that they need to speak for the one who has died. It is painful for the bereaved if the person's life or work is misrepresented.

Memorial services are difficult because you have to not only speak about what the deceased meant to you, but you also have to speak for the dead. It is very important to get it right, and not to misrepresent the deceased.

ChrisO said...

seven machos

OK, try to put your critical thinking hat on. Perhaps what's appropriate at Coretta Scott King's funeral is what her family thinks is appropriate. Let's see, what did her husband think was approipriate when he spoke at a funeral?

But I forgot, her family aren't the ones to decide what's appropriate. You and the Republican spin machine are somehow uniquely qualified for the task.

Seven Machos said...

Great, Chris. So Martin Luther King was overtly political at a funeral. Democrats used Paul Wellstone's funeral as a campaign rally. What's your point here?

Your point seems to be: "When someone dies, we will castigate Republicans but no one should complain about it." Isn't that pretty much the extent of your view of the subject?

I'm just happy the Left keeps carping unreasonably and in an undignified manner. Enjoy your time in the political wilderness...

The Jerk said...

Shorter Thorley:

Black is white.

Brando said...

macho boy, i'm not yelling at you. i'm making fun of you. You suggested that Clinton invaded Iraq. That's FUNNY! It's not possible to have a reasonable conversation about that. The way you people on the right wheel out the old Clinton Bugaboo is, frankly, hilarious.

And if you hadn't noticed, Rev. Joseph Lowery was one of the persons who gave a eulegy at the funeral of which this blog post by Ann is directly about, and Lowery specifically mentioned the the WMD issue that I am mentioning too. Seems pretty relevent to me, don’t ya think?

ChrisO said...


First of all, I do think CNN is a Republican spun machine. The day after the memorial service, the St.Paul Pioneer Press reported that there were "scattered boos" when Trent Lott entered. Hardly outrageous behavior from an audience made up of the general public, in the middle of a very partisan election fight. Tucker Carlson, on CNN, took it upon himself to report it as Trent Lott being shouted down, then chased from the stage.

One close associate of Wellstone's made a blatant partisan pitch, for which he was criticized by Republicans and Democrats. Other than that, are you really saying that because some in the crowd hissed when Lott entered, it was an outrage?

Senator Harkin ticked off the causes that Wellstone believed in, then encouraged the audience to stand up and fight for those causes. Because those cause were naturally his campaign platform, Republicans consider that partisan. I guess a better approach is to memorialize someone, but don't talk about what they believed in.

Unlike the Reagan funeral, which was a 10-day orgy of Republican triumphalism and revisionism. I mean really, before his funeral, who ever put "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" atop the list of any great Presidential quotes?

ChrisO said...

"Your point seems to be: "When someone dies, we will castigate Republicans but no one should complain about it." Isn't that pretty much the extent of your view of the subject?"

Geez, I can't make it any clearer. There's no one way that a funeral is supposed to be conducted, and the arrogance of Republicans who think they are qualified to dictate what should and should not be said at Coretta King's funeral is breathtaking. Since it's clear that speaking about political issues at a funeral was acceptable to the King's, who the hell are you to tell them that they're wrong? It was Coretta King's funeral. You don't get a say in how it's conducted.

Seven Machos said...


1. ""If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." - President Bill Clinton, February 17, 1998

2. In the years between the two Gulf Wars, during whic you will note that Bill Clinton was president most of the time, the United States and Iraq have engaged in a state of continued hostility. To force Iraq to comply with restrictions on weaponry, the United Nations and the United States conducted an economic embargo of Iraq, which devastated the economy, and the infrastructure of the nation. Periodically, this "cold war" erupted into open warfare, as the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein defied the UN and the U.S., prompting military responses. How is it again Clinton did not invade Iraq?

3. You are a loon, Big Guy. Facts are facts.

4. I didn't bring up Clinton or Iraq. You did.

Craig Ranapia said...


Whatever - I'm just calling it as I see - and saw - it, and if you're not inclined to accept I'm putting forward my POV in good faith (as opposed to reciting the talking points Karl Rove is transmitting into my fillings) there's really little point in talking past each other.

And contrary to your assertion, folks can stare down the barrell of a live camera and say whatever the hell they like. Just spare me the faux outrage when they get called on it.

Seven Machos said...

Craig -- I always wondered how we right-wingers were able to have the Repuke Talking Points I am accused of when I don't ever get them or watch Fox News or anything.

But the fillings! I never considered the fillings. That Karl Rove sure is an evil genius.

Aspasia M. said...


It's funny, isn't it, how people who are not friends or family of Mrs. King think that they have a right to plan her memorial service. And, they also know exactly what King would want said at the service.

Some pundits and commenters think that King's family and friends are not qualified to speak at her funeral. Some pundits and commenters think that King's family is not allowed to plan her memorial service. They get angry when one of Martin Luther King's close friends speaks at her funeral. Unbelievable.

Jacques Cuze said...

In George Bush's America, Coretta Scott King's funeral would have been shunned. At least Barbara Bush was man enough not to show up.

In George Bush's America, speaking for Mrs. King would have been Rush Limbaugh, recipient of an ACLU defense; Alberto Gonzales, defender of illegal wiretapping; and George Bush, victims one and all.

reader_iam said...


"...are you really saying that because some in the crowd hissed when Lott entered, it was an outrage?"

Whatever the original commenter was saying, I'll say this.

Hissing at a funeral is an outrage.

Isn't that an "of course"? Or are we just giving up on any sort of standards of behavior?

There's "no crying in baseball" and there's "no hissing at funerals." One, five, or half of a crowd of people, it doesn't matter. Same principle.

A funeral is "The Threepenny Opera." You don't get to audibly hiss at even the villains. (You can cold-shoulder and ignore with dignity, however.)

reader_iam said...

A funeral is NOT Threepenny Opera.

Seven Machos said...

Gooey Duck: what a ridiculous straw man you have knocked down.

No one is saying that they would "plan her memorial service" differently, or that they "know exactly what King would want said at the service."

The argument is that the things said were tacky and inappropriate. Is it wrong to say that what someone else says is tacky and inappropriate? Have you lefty loons never criticized anyone for what they said?

reader_iam said...

Of course, I think it would be more classy and gracious to omit the cold-shouldering, as well.

Then again, I think it would more classy and gracious to comment, even heatedly, without name-calling (especially by using the same old boring terms) or cutely re-working names/screen names.

What the heck do I know?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Just a few points:

Mrs. King was a political figure. Her political views will be part of the memorial. This wasn't Reagan's funeral, but King's, so you have to expect there may be a few sharp elbows thrown around. But if any comments were questionable, I think they were Carter's.

Reader is right. No matter what you believe, hissing a political opponent at a funeral is way out of the bounds of decency.

ChrisO - Long before Reagan's funeral (at least since 1989, in fact), many people counted, "Tear down this wall" as a great Presidential quote.

Reader - good clarification! (I hate it when I do that, too)

Seven Machos said...

"Gooey Duck" is how you pronounce "Geoduck." It's not a name-calling thing.

AJ Lynch said...

There is a right and wrong way to behave at every funeral. We Irish get drunk and fight at weddings but always act respectful and behave at funerals.

It's not about the attendee; unfortunately self-centered people forget that. Hence the Wellstone debacle and yesterday's uncalled for remarks by a minister and an ex-president.

I suspect MLK and his wife would have been extremely proud of what their own kids and many other black children have achieved IN THIS COUNTRY!

Aspasia M. said...

I think friends and family of Mrs. King should be not be criticized.

No one hissed at the King funeral. Everyone was polite. The minister and Pres. Bush shook hands.

Maybe I've been to too many funerals recently of people I've loved, but this is disgusting! I would be so hurt if someone criticized my father's memorial service and called it tacky. And they are not just criticizing political figures, like Carter, they are picking apart the euology of one of Martin Luther King's best friends!

If you have nothing good to say to the family and friends of Mrs. King let them grieve in peace and

RogerA said...

Hmmm--Seven machos is absolutely correct on the pronunciation of gooey duck = geoduck--a shellfish from the pacific northwest, quite large, with an elongated siphon that looks rather like an elephant's trunk--until the last 10 years much ridiculed until the Japanese discovered it made excellent sushi--and is now threatened.

As to AJ Lynch's post--AJ: I recall a wonderful Clancy Brother's ditty, "Tim Finnegan's Wake" that suggests wakes were also not necessarily alcohol free zones (although you did say funeral instead of wake).

Isnt more fun to talk about the important stuff the yell at each other?

At the risk of irritating everyone on this board, I did not think that Coretta Scott King was all that significant enough to merit an entourage and resulting brouhaha--EXCEPT for what she symbolized. Now--will we have this same sort of soiree when any of the King children die? or does it die with Mrs King. This whole thing is distasteful from the very beginning, irrespective of who attended or who said what.

Thorley Winston said...

At the risk of irritating everyone on this board, I did not think that Coretta Scott King was all that significant enough to merit an entourage and resulting brouhaha--EXCEPT for what she symbolized.

Agreed except that I think it should read ”EXCEPT for what her husband symbolized.”

brylin said...

Chris Muir of Day-by-Day Cartoon has a thought on this post here.

RogerA said...

Thorley--you are absolutely correct! Thanks for the clarification--now for those who will accuse me of all sorts of vile things, I can sympathize with a widow with a family who lost her husband to senseless violence; and she obviously had her own life that could have gone in a different direction--but this funeral was NOT about the person--and that's sad for Mrs. King, God rest her soul--and I credit President Clinton for reminding us it was about her--but it just didnt turn out that way in the end.
Thats the tragedy--and the farce is this silly brouhaha.

Aspasia M. said...

Well, I'm obviously too upset to talk about funerals right now. I just can't stand to think of a family being criticized about their memorial service. So I'd better take myself out of the funeral & politics discussion.

Geoduck is indeed pronounced gooey duck. It's a rather disgusting looking clam. You have to pound on it to make it tender enough to eat. Years ago my family went to a goeoduck hunting party. Lots of fun - my father held my sisters ankles as she got down into a big hole in the sand trying to catch a geoduck.

My husband's name of blooger is Geoduck. Because I am unoriginal, when he set me up on blooger, I took his name. He loves fish and shellfish and he grew up in the Pacific Northwest by the water.

reader_iam said...


The hissing, in the original comment, the referencing comment, and my response to the latter, was referring to Wellstone's funeral, specifically with regard to Trent Lott's appearance.

I didn't see (well, hear) any hissing at King's funeral.

Sorry for my lack of clarity.

reader_iam said...

Geoduck2 and others: My bad! Thanks for the enlightenment. Now (and appropriate enough) I'm going to feel honor-bound to bone up on geoducks.

So I'll withdraw the screen-name twisting part of the relevant comment, with a very sincere apology.

But not the other part.

Aspasia M. said...

reader iam,

I thought it was sweet that you were defending my shellfishy name!

I knew the hissing was referring to a different funeral. I just meant that it sounded like Mrs. King's funeral was civil and dignified. And I was under the impression that everyone got along during the funeral.

But, I'm not going to post about funerals anymore! From now on, I shall only post about shellfish!

ChrisO said...

For the record, and as palladian reminded me, it was a memorial service for Wellstone, not his funeral. People also cheered, and you don't see much of that at funerals, either.

And other than one campaign worker, who was also extremely close to Wellstone, I don't recall any criticism of what the speakers said. Criticizing "the Democrats" for what some people in the crowd did is like criticizing a blog for what some of the commenters say. And I still maintain that nothing that went on there would have been much noted if the Republicans didn't see it as an opportunity to lie about the proceedings for political gain.

ChrisO said...

I'd also like to see a reference from someplace other than a Republican source to Reagan's quote being among great Presidential quotes.

RogerA said...

Chris O--I am sensing you arent a Ronald Reagan fan--I am not familiar with the particular source that validates great President quotes--do you have one in mind? I am particular fond of that great quote from President Clinton: " I did not have sex with that woman...."; but thats just me--please tell us what sources you think are authority for great presidential quotes.

Craig Ranapia said...

geoduck2 wrote:
It's funny, isn't it, how people who are not friends or family of Mrs. King think that they have a right to plan her memorial service.

I reply:
Isn't it funny when you have some people set up ridiculous and offensive straw men when they don't want to engage with what people actually wrote? Well, no it isn't...

I was criticising the tone and substance of PUBLIC remarks some individuals chose to make - unless you expect me to believe nobody noticed the large media contingent - which I sincerely believe was inappropriate for the occasion.

Please quote where I directly or implicitly criticised Mrs King's family - which would have been a crass thing to do under the circumstances.

Susan said...

Just after I'm convinced by all the talk on the right side of the blogoshere of the awfulness of the King funeral, I read the always brilliant
Peggy Noonan's WSJ
Gracious as usual, Peggy loved the enthusiasm, reveled in the politics, saw free speech in action.

anonlawstudent said...

Elect CLINTON 2008!! (Bill, that is.)

Craig Ranapia said...


Well, I like Peggy Noonan too, but all I can say (in the spirit of free speech and all)is that she really needs a good smack around the ears with a copy of Emily Post. :) Call me a prissy missy, but I don't use funerals as an occasion to "pointedly insult" fellow mourners. (And damn it, there's been times I've been tempted to turn a family funeral into something out of the wilder reaches of classical Greek lit.) That's what a well-lubricated wake, followed by years of private family dinners, is for.

And, yes, Mrs Noonan thanks for the ever so patronising reminder that there was SO MUCH abour Mrs King's funeral that was full of grace, light and love. What a shame a very few couldn't rise to the occasion.

frankybme said...

I love eating gooey ducks. My mother loves to make it with rice, tastes great! Though I do think you have to get used to the texture.

Geoducks are prized foods in food markets worldwide and are a highly valued fishery for the state (Puget Sound) , estimated at $40 million annually.

Check out geoduck for info.