Friday, February 10, 2006

The Coretta Scott King funeral - "Right is right, wrong is wrong"...or just free speech?

Bill O'Reilly had a great "talking points" memo last night. Click here to read it. You may be able to watch here or here.

The topic was the arguably inappropriate comments made by a few of the speakers at Mrs. King's funeral last week...specifically those of President Carter and Rev. Joseph Lowery. The larger point was the hypocrisy of the the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The double-standard seems to me to be obvious. If President Bush had taken the opportunity to score political points at the funeral, he would have been vilified.

Here is Bill's memo:

"Last night, Al Sharpton and I had a gentleman's disagreement about using Mrs. King's funeral to make political points, and in Jimmy Carter's case, lob a cheap shot at President Bush.

As you may know, Carter brought up the wiretapping controversy. Now, I've said all political grandstanding at a funeral erodes the dignity of the occasion. Reverend Sharpton doesn't see it that way.

Politically, the far-left Atlanta Journal-Constitution also disagrees with me. That paper is on our "don't buy-don't advertise" list because it shades it`s news coverage to the left and uses personal attacks against those with whom it disagrees.

And today, the paper editorial I'll quote,

"The funeral of Coretta Scott King was a wonderful thing. And not the least among its wonders was the controversy stirred by comments from the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter."

The AJC loved the fact that these men embarrassed President Bush at the funeral. But let's turn it around. What if President Bush had used a funeral to make political points himself?

What if the president had said this quote,

"It was a terrible thing that Mrs. King and her husband, Martin, were wiretapped by the Democrat Kennedy administration in the `60s. That was awful. But that illegal operation has nothing to do with allowing the NSA to listen to conversations that may involve terrorists, who want to kill all Americans. I'm sure Mrs. King would have understood the need for security because she saw firsthand what hated-filled violence can do."

Ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine how the Atlanta newspaper, the rest of the left-wing media, Al Sharpton and Jimmy Carter would have reacted to those words? Can you imagine? Do you think the AJC would call them wonderful?

So what's the difference? The political statements made by Carter and others are the same as the fictional statements I just wrote for President Bush. Are they not?

Once again, the hypocrisy on the far-left is staggering. It's fine for them to throw bombs, even at a funeral, but does anyone believe they would hold the same point of view if conservatives used the same tactics? Come on.

Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Appropriate behavior at a funeral is to honor the deceased, not denigrate a fellow mourner who you disagree with. Somebody tell President Carter."

Peggy Noonan looks at it from the larger perspective of free speech. Click here to see the whole column. Here's how it starts:

"Listen, I watched the funeral of Coretta Scott King for six hours Tuesday, from the pre-service commentary to the very last speech, and it was wonderful--spirited and moving, rousing and respectful, pugnacious and loving. The old lions of the great American civil rights movement of the 20th century were there, and standing tall. The old lionesses, too. There was preaching and speechifying and at the end I thought: This is how democracy ought to be, ought to look every day--full of the joy of argument, and marked by the moral certainty that here you can say what you think.

There was nothing prissy, nothing sissy about it. A former president, a softly gray-haired and chronically dyspeptic gentleman who seems to have judged the world to be just barely deserving of his presence, pointedly insulted a sitting president who was, in fact, sitting right behind him. The Clintons unveiled their 2008 campaign. A rhyming preacher, one of the old lions, a man of warmth and stature, freely used the occasion to verbally bop the sitting president on the head.

So what? This was the authentic sound of a vibrant democracy doing its thing. It was the exact opposite of the frightened and prissy attitude that if you draw a picture I don't like, I'll have to kill you.

It was: We do free speech here"...
Ms. Noonan is right, of course, that free speech is to be celebrated. I just think that most Americans are turned off by political opportunism in the setting of a funeral.

Noonan's article continues...

..."Bill Clinton was, as always, the master. Say what you will, he is the only politician in America with the confidence to call Episcopalians "the frozen chosen" and know everyone will laugh and take no offense. Amid all the happy bombast he was the one who pointed at the casket and said, "There's a woman in there." He talked about Mrs. King in good strong plain terms. Yes, he caused a quarter-second of awkwardness when he said of the beautiful Coretta that even at age 75 she still had the goods, but in moments of exuberance we all forget our own history.

The real news was how the Clintons used the funeral to unveil how they will run in 2008: Together, side by side, with beautiful hairdos. I haven't seen them like this--both standing at the podium--since 1992, when they were new. In the years since, after the health-care failure and the Whitewater scandals, the West Wing attitude toward the president's wife was a quiet and respectful "Get that woman off the podium!" Not anymore. All is new again. Mrs. Clinton has clearly been working on her public speaking, and attempted to use her hands as her husband uses his, now in an emphasizing arc, now resting on her chest. But his are large, long and elegant, and hers are puffed and grasping.

Both Clintons spoke in the cadence and with the imagery of the Bible. Mrs. Clinton's first words, in which she referred to Mrs. King's brave decision to continue her husband's work after his murder, were steeped in religiosity. "As we are called, each of us must decide whether to answer that call by saying, 'Send me.'" She ended with, "The work of peace never ends. So we bid her earthly presence farewell. We wish her Godspeed on her homecoming. And we ask ourselves, 'Will we say, when the call comes, "Send me"?'"

Oh I think we will, Ms. Meanieface!

If you don't understand that Mrs. Clinton was rehearsing her 2008 announcement speech, then you are a child and must go home and have a nice cup of cocoa.

This is what is coming: I have had a blessed life. And like so many people I could choose, after all these years, a life of comfort. Watch it from the sidelines, tend to my own concerns, watch the garden grow. But our nation calls out. And if we are to be Americans we must meet the call. "Send me."

With Bill nodding beside her, his hands clasped prayerfully in front of him, nodding and working that jaw muscle he works when he wants you to notice, for just a second, how hard it is sometimes for him to contain his admiration.

God I love them."...
Click here to see other articles by Peggy Noonan.

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