Posted at February 8, 2006 01:05 AM in The Rant.
By DOUG THOMPSON
George W. Bush’s pathetic attempt to turn Coretta Scott King’s funeral into a politically-advantageous photo op fell flatter than his State of the Union speech Tuesday – a textbook example of just how out of touch the President has become with the American people.
"This commemorative ceremony this morning and this afternoon is not only to acknowledge the great contributions of Coretta and Martin, but to remind us that the struggle for equal rights is not over," said former President Carter, who remarks brought loud cheers. "We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."
Carter’s comments ring true about Bush and his right-wing Republican followers – a group of rabid racists whose tokenism only deepens the racial divide in this country.
But Carter drew even louder cheers when he compared King’s struggles against FBI harassment and surveillance to Bush’s use of the National Security Agency and other government agencies to spy on Americans.
“It was difficult for them personally,” Carter said of both Kings, “with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretapping, other surveillance, and as you know, harassment from the FBI."
Bush tried his usual plastic smile but his body language clearly showed discomfort as speaker after speaker zeroed in on the hypocrisy of his Presidency – one that talks unity but practices division.
He offered phony applause when the Rev. Joseph Lowery, King protege and longtime critic, who cited Coretta King's opposition to the war in Iraq and scored the administration’s phony commitment to helping the poor.
"She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," Lowery said. "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor."
When Bush’s turn came, the audience, for the most part, sat on their hands, offering only muted applause for his seven-minute eulogy. It was a pitiful performance by a President whose legacy is marked all too often by shameless self-promotion.
Longtime political scientist George Harleigh, who worked in both the Nixon and Reagan White House, called the President’s appearance at King’s funeral “the equivalent of a walk-on, a token but-failed attempt to show compassion that does not exist for a cause he does not support.
“George Bush has never been a compassionate man,” says Harleigh, “but lately he looks more detached than normal, like someone going through the motions, marking his time and hoping against hope that his time is not up.”
But Bush, despite his clumsy attempts to put on a strong public face, should realize he is living on borrowed time, not only as a lame duck President but as one who could well face impeachment if enough Democrats win seats in this fall’s House and Senate elections.
“The Bush era is coming to an end – in 2008 or perhaps even sooner,” Harleigh says. “It is an era that will not be remembered fondly.”
There is little doubt that George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the most controversial, morally-challenged, dishonest Presidents to serve at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What remains in doubt is how his Presidency will end and whether or not there will be an America left to put that painful memory behind it.