Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

America Bids Farewell to Rosalynn Carter

Yesterday, the public funeral for former first lady Rosalynn Carter was held. She received a very appropriate send-off, with all of the living first ladies in attendance, along with three presidents: her husband Jimmy, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

In theory, a state-type funeral like this is supposed to be an occasion where the politics are left at the door, and everyone can come together in memory of the deceased. Unfortunately, we live in an era where there is no such thing as an event that is non-political and controversy free, whether it's a turkey pardon, or the White House Christmas decorations, or a high-profile funeral. In this particular case, as you might guess, the controversy centered on Melania Trump's presence.

The problem here is not only that Trump was a first-lady-in-absentia, and that her family's politics are the polar opposite of what the Carter family believes, but also that Donald Trump has said some very insulting things about the Carters over the years. Most recently, shortly after Rosalynn entered hospice care, The Donald said: "The happiest person anywhere in this country right now is Jimmy Carter because his administration looked brilliant compared to these clowns." Even though the remark was not about Rosalynn's health woes, it was obviously very crass to talk about how happy Jimmy Carter must be at that moment.

In the end, Melania Trump was in a no-win situation; if she skipped the service it would have been tacky, and by showing up she became an unwelcome reminder of her husband's bad behavior. For our part, we probably come down on the side of commending her for subjecting herself to the harsh glare of public scrutiny. Melania hates that, and it surely would have been the much easier thing for her to remain holed up at whatever Trump property she's living at these days.

This is also a reminder that, for the foreseeable future, the Trumps are going to complicate (and taint) funerals and other such events. What happens, for example, when Jimmy dies (an event not too far off, it appears)? If one Trump or both skip the funeral, then it's disrespectful to Carter and to the office of the presidency. But if they show up, well, they will be not especially welcome, and will be a net negative for the proceedings. It's a shame that #45 could never bring himself to do the civil, nonpartisan things like attend his successor's inauguration or host his predecessor's White House portrait unveiling. With that precedent, the die was cast.

That said, as a reminder that there's still some class in the world, it should be noted that Melania Trump was encouraged to come because Rosalynn Carter asked that she be invited. As a bonus, Jimmy Carter was escorted to the service by a Black healthcare assistant. After depositing the former president at his assigned seat, the assistant headed to the back of the church, only to be approached by an usher and led to a seat in the third row, just behind the Carter family and all the presidents and first ladies. It was a subtle, but very nice, moment.

Today, Rosalynn Carter will be laid to rest at the family home in Plains, GA. May she rest in peace. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates