I was scheduled to be a guest on CNN’s Reliable Sources program on Sunday, but was preempted. One of the topics was going to be the funeral service for Coretta Scott King. It’s an old story by now, but here’s what I think about it.
I have little quarrel with the conduct of Rev. Lowery, who used part of his oration to call for “social justice” and to criticize the administration on this count. The King legacy consists of two aspects. The first is the struggle for equal rights — the quest to have people of all races judged by “the content of their character” not the color of their skin. That aspect of the legacy is non-controversial, except perhaps among liberals demanding racial preferences. The second aspect of the King legacy is much more radical. King favored major redistribution of income and a pacifist foreign policy. This part of the struggle has been unsuccessful, but it’s understandable and legitimate that MLK’s comrade-in-arms would raise this important dimension of what King came to stand for at the widow’s funeral. Lowery’s reference to not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was gratuitous, but I think we can cut the old preacher some slack. President Bush seemed to take it well enough.
Jimmy Carter is another story. It was cheap and well wide-of-the mark for Carter to try to score points against the president (and perhaps get his name in the newspaper) by referring to the wiretapping directed against King in the 1960s. There is no basis for believing that King’s phone would be tapped in these times by this president except in an absurd scenario under which King was communicating with al Qaeda or members of that group had his phone number. But unless Carter is abetting some dictator with nuclear aspirations, who cares anymore what he says or does?
Howard Kurtz was also planning to discuss media coverage of the funeral. Kurtz’s take is that the MSM mostly missed the boat by burying the controversy. I saw the coverage as mixed. Some outlets may have underplayed the criticism of the president, but the LA Times (which Kurtz says “really nailed it”) overplayed the angle, in my opinion. Surely, it could have used the first paragraph to lay the widow to rest before jumping breathlessly into the Bush-bashing.
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