Jimmy Carter may not have been the worst president in U.S. history, but he is unquestionably
the worst ex president, as he demonstrated yet again at the funeral of Coretta Scott King Feb.
Mr. Carter took two cheap shots at President Bush, who was in attendance with his wife, Laura,
and his parents.
In the first, Mr. Carter likened the NSA's listening in on telephone conversations between al
Qaida suspects abroad and people within the United States to the wiretapping of Dr. Martin
Luther King, which, Mr. Carter neglected to tell his audience, had been authorized by then
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Mr. Carter's remarks on electronic surveillance were hypocritical as well as inappropriate
because in 1977 his attorney general, Griffin Bell, had authorized warrantless surveillance of
two men who were subsequently convicted of spying for Vietnam. The U.S. Court of Appeals for
the 4th Circuit held unanimously that warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.
In the second, Mr. Carter implied there was racism in the federal response to hurricane
Katrina. "We have only to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and
Mississippi...Those who were most devastated by Katrina know that there are not yet equal
opportunities for all Americans," he said, repeating the now debunked myth that the hurricane
victims were disproportionately black.
Though Mr. Carter was the most prominent demagogue at Ms. King's funeral, he wasn't the worst.
That distinction fell to the Rev. Joseph Lowrey.
"We now know there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but Coretta knew, and we
know, there are weapons of misdirection right down here," Mr. Lowery said, nodding in the
Sen. Ted Kennedy behaved himself, confining his remarks to what is appropriate for a funeral.
And former President Bill Clinton was gracious. But many Democrats have yet to learn from the
highly politicized 2002 funeral of Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, which backfired, leading to
Republican control of the senate. Mr. Carter and Mr. Lowery may not have a sense of decency,
but swing voters do.
"It was tacky and disrespectful for anyone to launch into a political attack at a funeral,"
wrote Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, who is black.
"Once again, Democratic officeholders used a funeral to take political shots," said the Detroit
News. "Is such rudeness always required?"
Many Democrats seem to think so. Over the top rhetoric has become their hallmark.
I think Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is a lightweight ignoramus with serious anger
management problems. But I'd never dream of comparing him to vicious dictators such as Saddam
Hussein or Syria's Bashar Assad.
But in an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Feb. 8th, Mr. Dean compared President
Bush to Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Amadinejad.
Democrats traditionally have favored more government spending for everything except defense.
So it is reasonable (though I think inaccurate) for Democrats to claim the federal government
hasn't spent enough fast enough on hurricane relief.
And it is within the bounds of acceptable political discourse to assert the president was
negligent, and is "insensitive" to the plight of Katrina's victims. But Rep. Barney Frank of
Massachussetts likened administration policy to ethnic cleansing.
I suspect the "Republicans are racists" meme is motivated in large part by terror. The
president received only 9 percent of black votes in 2004. But blacks are too large and varied
a group to maintain overwhelming allegiance to one political party forever.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler star Lynn Swann is a prohibitive favorite to win the Republican
nomination for governor in Pennsylvania, as is Ken Blackwell in Ohio. LtGov. Michael Steele
has locked up the GOP senate nomination in Maryland.
If some of these outstanding black candidates win (all are even in current polls), it could
spark a shift among blacks to the GOP.
The shift need not be large to be decisive. If just one black in six votes Republican, it's
hard to see how Democrats can win a national election. Now imagine what might happen if
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is the GOP candidate for president in 2008.
Frantic Democrats are playing the race card to keep their most loyal voting bloc on the
plantation, but it's not the trump it used to be.