- Just a quick rhetorical question on the Corretta Scott King funeral "controversy" -- wtf? When we honor a recently dead person, we always leave it up to the judgment of the deceased's close friends and families to use their best judgment as to how that person would want his or her life to be commemorated. Since when did these arrangements come to be subjected to criticism by random pundits? I hope to God that if through some misfortune I drop dead tomorrow, the organizers of my funeral won't shy away from mentioning the small matter of the political causes I've spent my entire (and admittedly brief) professional career fighting for.
The only reason the general public cares about King's funeral is that she was a political person. She fought for political causes. Not only for in-retrospect-uncontroversial ones like "black people should be allowed to vote," but for issues that continue to be contentious today. Did the Bush administration not overrule the opinion of professional lawyers that the Texas re-redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act? Did they not file a brief encouraging the Supreme Court to restrict affirmative action in college admissions? Do we think King approved of that? Did she expend no small effort in recent years to support gay rights and oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment? Did the Bush administration not support the FMA? Should we really pretend all this never happened to avoid tweaking the sensibilities about Republican politicians?
- GREENFIELD: Back in 2002, shortly before the election, Senator Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. And at the memorial service, a number of political people made the point to honor Paul Wellstone's memory, vice president -- ex-vice president Mondale who was running in the state should be elected. There were also -- there was some booing, apparently, not that much, directed at some Republican senators there.
It became an article of faith on the political right that this had become a real ugly moment, when partisanship replaced memorials. After the funeral yesterday, Kate O'Beirne, a prominent conservative writer, said liberals don't know how to keep politics out of their funerals.
And on the Daily Kos, which is a site from the left, the argument was these conservatives had nothing to do with civil rights, they have no right to lecture us.
O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about this, because when you talk about a Wellstone moment, timing is an awful lot in politics. And the timing there very different than here.
GREENFIELD: Absolutely. That memorial service happened literally three or four days before the election. And there was a backlash to it that may have helped the Republicans take that Senate seat.
We're now in early February. The idea that this is going to have some political implication, you have to really be overcommitted to endless analysis.
I do, however, think that in a more subtle way, this actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush. I mean, he came to the funeral, changed his plans, made a gracious speech. And I think for people who are not politically committed -- I mean, if you don't like George Bush, this was fine. If you like George Bush, this was horrible.
I think for a lot of people the idea is, do you really do this at a funeral?