BOSTON (CBS) – Last Saturday night, within hours of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama went on national television to eulogize him, calling his ideological nemesis “a brilliant legal mind…[who] profoundly shaped the legal landscape…[and] will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Tomorrow, the president will attend a memorial service for Justice Scalia at the Supreme Court building.
But to some, the fact that the president will not attend the Scalia funeral on Saturday is a sign of disrespect, a “snub.”
What a sorry example of how thin-skinned and reactionary our political culture has become.
For starters, there is no rule or custom that would dictate the president’s attendance at the funeral. The last two presidents attended the funeral of some justices who passed away, and not others.
Sometimes presidents attend the funerals of heads of state; other times, they send the vice-president, or a lower-ranking representative.
Secondly, the narrative popular in some quarters that President Obama somehow lacks good manners is laughably false.
He is like most other presidents in my lifetime – capable of both tough political infighting and personal graciousness when it’s called for.
The president’s handling of his job is totally fair game for blunt criticism, and no one seems shy about indulging in that.
But the road our culture is on – of constant grievance, knee-jerk accusation, and masking disrespect as a call for respect – is a dead end.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: