Steve Benen at Political Animal has a nice summary of conservative complaints yesterday that the memorial services for Edward Kennedy will be “politicized” by Democrats. They constantly invoke the 2002 memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, and seem right on the edge of suggesting that Kennedy’s death will wind up being a net asset for the GOP. All this within hours of the announcement of the senator’s passing, mind you.
Benen’s comment nails the unseemliness of this sort of talk:
There may be a genuine fear on the right that Kennedy’s passing may inspire Democrats to complete his unfinished work, and give the left new resolve. A stirring memorial service with inspirational eulogies may have political consequences, so conservatives have apparently decided to try to crush that spirit now, before anyone starts to feel motivated to honor Kennedy’s legacy.
Indeed, they’re just laying the groundwork. Far-right bloggers and Fox News personalities may feel tempted to condemn Kennedy-related services when they occur, so they’re letting everyone know now, “We’ll be watching closely, waiting for rhetoric we don’t like.”
Hold services for a progressive champion that meets the demands of right-wing activists, or face their wrath.
It’s hard to imagine how you would hold an appropriate memorial service for someone who fought for progressive causes for nearly half a century, without mentioning said causes. This concern over making sure no politics crept into a memorial service or the surrounding commemorations sure didn’t bother conservatives when Ronald Reagan died.