I have a snooze

Where was the party of Lincoln at the commemoration of the March on Washington and MLK´s great speech?

Former President George H.W. Bush: too poorly to attend (he´s 89)

Former President George W. Bush: recovering from surgery

Former Governor Jeb Bush (invited to stand in for other Bushes): other engagements

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: no reason published (spoke at a special Capitol event  on July 31, the true anniversary, along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) [Correction from comments: August 28 was the true anniversary; the earlier event was presumably brought forward to fit with Congress´ recess.]

House Speaker John Boehner (invited to speak): other engagements

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (invited to speak): other engagements

Former GOP Presidential candidate Senator John McCain: other engagements

African-American GOP Senator Tim Scott: claimed not to have been invited, then pled other engagements.

The earlier Capitol event provides a figleaf, but where was it on TV? If the GOP were serious about reaching out to black voters, its leaders would have been fighting their way to Obama´s microphone on the Mall with their crutches.

African-Americans will draw their own conclusions. The Democratic Party is not always a reliable or effective ally in politics, but it´s the only one they´ve got.




  1. Mel Brender says


    What’s this about the true anniversary being July 31? I was there, and while I do not recall the exact date, I do remember it took place in late August of 1963. Moreover, Wikipedia gives the date as August 28.

  2. Herschel says


    Yeah, I’m puzzled by the “true anniversary” on July 31 too.

    As for George W. Bush: He had an angioplasty with a stent emplacement, which is a percutaneous procedure not usually characterized as surgery. Recovery from this procedure is generally measured in days, not weeks, and it was three weeks ago. Not much of an excuse.

    • byomtov says


      I can’t speak to Bush’s condition, but I had one of those – sans stent – on a Friday and was home on Sunday and back to a normal routine on Monday.

    • Dennis says


      If you’re a Republican, the principle seems to be any excuse is okay, even if it involves lying about being invited.

    • Warren Terra says


      What does that say about his party, though, or at least about his conception of his party? He can stand up for racial equality by attending the March On Washington as a young man, but as a public figure and the Senate Minority Leader – and supposedly as someone facing a serious primary challenge from his ideological right – he can’t be seen to commemorate the event fifty years later? Maybe he doesn’t want his voters to know he was there fifty years ago?

  3. Jonathan H. Adler says


    According to the Roll call story, Senator Tim Scott was invited to attend — but not to speak — with a generic form letter addressed “Dear Representative.” Why would his office respond favorably to that?

    • byomtov says


      Because he thought it was important to attend?

      Because the organizers’ failure to show sufficient deference to him is not the most important thing about the event, and does not diminish its significance?

      Just guessing here.

    • Ed Whitney says


      You need some comparison data here. What was the wording of the invitations sent to Democratic elected officials, and how many of them attended? Did they receive letters addressed “Dear Representative” also, or were their invitations more personal.

      If there were differences in the invitations, that could be a problem for the Dems. If not, not.

      • James Wimberley says


        Not really. They should have wanted to be present: get sidekicks to ring up to wangle invitations to speak and slots on the podium, and complain loudly if these were denied.

        • Warren Terra says


          Also, except with special speaking invitations given to grandees like the President, the Speaker of the House, etcetera, the organizers apparently decided to issue speaking invitations to selected public figures who had expressed an interest in being there in the first place. Tim Scott had done the opposite.

  4. Brett Bellmore says


    I think it’s not that hard to understand. Republicans tend to view the self-designated “civil rights movement” as little more than an extension of the Democratic party, less concerned with actual civil liberties than advancing the interests of the Democratic party. This was, thus, considered a partisan event, and when you get invited to the other party’s partisan events, you know it’s not so you can have a good time. It’s so that you can be insulted to your face, rather than remotely. Who volunteers for that?

    We could run an experiment: The NRA, (Which bills itself as the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, and after the Heller and McDonald decisions, who can legitimately deny this?) could issue dryly worded invitations to all members of Congress to attend it’s annual convention. Then we could see how many Democrats actually show up, vs how many Republicans, and draw the same conclusions.