Sounds like a most uncomfortable occasion for Mr. B***. One can only hope that he appreciated the opportunity to hear what people really think of him, rather than being surrounded by a pre-screened crowd of yes-people. I’m sorry that Mrs. King is dead, but what a wonderful and unique opportunity to force our leader to face the masses and look in the mirror – hope he kept his eyes open.
Lithonia, Ga. – A day of eulogizing Coretta Scott King turned into a rare, in-person rebuke of President Bush, with a succession of civil rights and political leaders assailing White House policies as evidence that the dream of social and racial equality pursued by King and her slain husband was far from reality.
Bush and his wife, Laura, sat on stage as more than 10,000 cheered suggestions from several speakers that the 1960s civil rights movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – and fostered by his widow since his assassination – remains alive and that its goals have not been fully realized. They cited the debates in Washington over the war in Iraq, the recovery from Hurricane Katrina and government eavesdropping.
Tuesday’s six-hour service, much of it carried live nationally on cable television, marked an unusual combination of political pageantry and civil rights history. The spectacle included humor, interpretive dance, gospel and classical music, shouting and testifying, and a list of dignitaries that made room for three former presidents, poet Maya Angelou and singer Michael Bolton.
But it also included pointed political commentary, much of it aimed at Bush. The president and his wife watched as the sanctuary at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta filled with raucous cheers for their White House predecessors, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton – a reminder that five years into his term, Bush and the Republican Party have not found the acceptance across black America that GOP strategists had hoped.
“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,” former Democratic President Carter said to applause. “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, who has had a strained relationship with Bush, drew cheers when he used the Kings’ struggle as a reminder of the recent debate over whether Bush violated civil liberties protections by ordering warrantless surveillance of some domestic phone calls and e-mails.
Noting that the Kings’ work was “not appreciated even at the highest level of the government,” Carter said: “It was difficult for them personally – 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 has said his own program of warrantless wiretapping is aimed at stopping terrorists.