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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Paul Wellstone Redux?

I can hear the Republican spin points being formulated: "They turned a funeral into a political rally!" Such a claim may have some validity if applied to the funeral of Coretta Scott King:

But there was a strong political undercurrent, with several speakers making veiled and in some cases open criticism of the Bush administration from a podium situated just feet from where the president sat.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin recalled how Mrs Scott hadspoken out against "the senselessness of war" with a voice that was heard "from the tin rooftops of Soweto to the bomb shelters of Baghdad."

In an apparent swipe at the domestic eavesdropping programme authorised by Mr Bush as part of the war against terror, Mr Carter recalled how Mrs King and her husband had been the targets of secret government wiretapping.

"It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance," he said.

Mr Carter also referred to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as evidence that the struggle for civil rights was not complete. "We only have to recall the colour of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi who are most devastated by Katrina to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans," he said.

Mr Clinton was joined at the podium by his wife, Hillary. When he said how pleased he was to be in attendance with the current and former presidents a voice in the crowd shouted, "and the future president", provoking first laughter and then applause.

The blacks still love them some Clinton, don't they?

Part of me agrees that it is rather tacky to discuss politics at a funeral--the minister who referred to the lack of weapons of mass destruction seemed to be reaching to me. At the same time, though, it does bear mentioning that the current administration espouses policies that are in many ways antithetical to the work of Martin Luther King and his wife.

My gut says that things like Carter's Katrina reference are fair game, especially when stated as a call to finish the Kings' work, rather than used as a weapon to attack the current leadership in Washington (like the more direct Iraq references made by others).