They came to praise King and bury Bush

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

“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

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.

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.

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.