News & Politics

And the Paul Wellstone Memorial Award Goes To...

And the Paul Wellstone Memorial Award Goes To...
Louis Farrakhan, from left, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

I don’t mean to sound self-centered, but I hope that at my funeral, whoever delivers the eulogy will talk about me, and not their or my political enemies. It’s not much to ask, but frankly, I’d like to believe there’s more to me than the people I’ve had feuds with.

Not since the Paul Wellstone funeral have I been so disgusted at the gross politicization of a memorial service. Wellstone, you might remember, was the U.S. senator who died in a plane crash in 2002 less than two weeks before the midterm elections. In an effort to save the seat, Walter Mondale was selected to run, and the funeral services for Wellstone turned into a grossly inappropriate campaign rally.

The past couple of days have brought the memory of that shameful memorial service back to the front of my mind.

I never expected this to happen at the funeral services for John McCain. When he barred President Trump from attending his funeral it may have been petty, but understandable. But, it seems now that the move merely gave those delivering eulogies the opening to bluntly attack President Trump.

The saddest part was that John McCain’s daughter Meghan used a moment in her eulogy to bluntly attack Trump.

Meghan McCain tore into an absent President Trump at a memorial service for her father, Arizona Sen. John McCain, in Washington on Saturday.

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness,” McCain, a co-host of “The View,” said before 2,500 mourners at the National Cathedral. “The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege.”

“He was a great fire who burned bright,” she said in a speech punctuated by sobbing. “A few have resented that fire… but my father never cared what they thought.

“The America of John McCain does not need to be made great again, because America was always great.”

It’s hard to wrap my head around that fact that Meghan made the conscious decision to give the media, and basically the world, the opportunity to boil down her eulogy into a Trump smear rather than an ode to her father’s lifelong legacy. She just cemented her father’s legacy, not as a war hero and longtime U.S. senator, but as an enemy of Donald Trump. I’m sure even John McCain would rather be remembered for more than that.

Perhaps even more shocking was that attacking Trump during a eulogy actually started with the funeral services of Aretha Franklin.

Al Sharpton got a standing ovation for mocking President Trump at Aretha Franklin’s star-studded funeral in Detroit on Friday.

The civil rights leader and MSNBC host started off by poking fun at himself for making headlines recently after misspelling “respect” during a tribute for Franklin on his news show.

“You know the other Sunday on my show, I misspelled ‘respect,’ and a lot of y’all corrected me,” Mr. Franklin said.

“Now I want y’all to help me correct President Trump to teach him what it means,” he joked, much to the crowd’s delight. “And I say that because when word went out that Ms. Franklin passed, Trump said, ‘she used to work for me.’ No, she used to perform for you. She worked for us.”

This kind of stuff doesn’t make Trump look bad, it makes his enemies look petty and weak. They’ve taken what should be solemn moments of reflection on the legacies of those they came to honor and instead used their moments in the spotlight to attack someone who wasn’t even there. They say Trump has had a negative impact on political discourse, right? So what exactly is using the funeral of a music icon or a war hero and longtime U.S. senator to attack a sitting U.S. president? Is that patriotic somehow? Is that appropriate or heroic? How exactly does attacking Trump during a eulogy make him look bad? Newsflash: it doesn’t.

I’m not sure which funeral wins the Paul Wellstone Award this year, Aretha Franklin’s or John McCain’s. All I know is it’s sad that 16 years after that disgusting display people still haven’t learned there’s a time and a place for everything, and a funeral is not the time to go after your political enemies. Aretha Franklin is more than just a prop to use to attack Trump. John McCain is more than just a politician who didn’t like Trump. Hopefully one day we’ll remember that.