Why one Trump was invited to Rosalynn Carter’s funeral

By including Melania Trump at her funeral, former first lady Rosalynn Carter showed a graciousness that is too often lacking in politics, and a dignity to which all presidents and former presidents should aspire.

Carter will be buried Wednesday in Plains, Georgia, after a tribute service Tuesday at Emory University and a funeral Wednesday at Maranatha Baptist Church. It is unclear whether former President Jimmy Carter, who is in hospice care, will be well enough to attend, and what other former presidents and dignitaries will be on hand.

But The Washington Post reported that the wife of former President Donald Trump was invited and that Rosalynn Carter had been involved in the decision. The gesture was an olive branch to Trump supporters, but more than that: It was also a genteel, Southern mother’s way of showing an unruly nation how to behave.

It was a lesson badly needed.


From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter participate in the State Funeral for former President George H.W. Bush, at the National Cathedral, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 in Washington.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Assuming she goes to the services, this won’t be the first time Melania Trump has been in the company of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton; the Trumps were among the attendees at the state funeral for former President George H.W. Bush in 2018.

But a lot has happened since then, and the animosity between Donald Trump and President Joe Biden makes it virtually impossible to imagine a day when the current president and first lady, and the former president and first lady, and all their predecessors, sit together on the same pew of the National Cathedral — or do anything together, whether amicably or gritting their teeth.

In 2021, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Trump did not join other former presidents when they gathered at the site of the World Trade Center. Although George W. Bush also didn’t go to Ground Zero — instead going to Shanksville, Pennsylvania — Trump’s absence sparked a flurry of articles about his absence.

Earlier that year, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made a video together marking the inauguration of Joe Biden. Bush, Clinton and Obama have also come together to promote relief efforts in Haiti and even appeared at a golf tournament together, looking like the best of buddies, with Bush even affably laying a hand on Clinton’s shoulder.

Even better than that was the photo of Michelle Obama hugging George W. Bush at the dedication of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016, and the image of Bush passing Michelle Obama a mint during the funeral service for Sen. John McCain two years later.

While much is made of the venomous content of social media, there is room for sweet moments like this, and it’s clear why we love them. These unscripted moments of geniality between partisans offer hope that maybe politics isn’t as important as it seems, that the worst acrimony can give way to something better.

If the Bush family can love the Obamas and the Clintons, and vice versa, is there a future where they can love — or at least not openly loathe — Donald Trump?

Perhaps not. The circumstances of the Trump presidency and post-presidency are unusual, to put it mildly, not only because of Trump’s challenge of the 2020 election results and the criminal proceedings against him, but because of his personality. He is famous for personal insults, which may play well with some of his base, but are hard to overcome later when face to face with the insultee. And the insults have gone both ways — Trump supporters have not forgotten the time Hillary Clinton called half of them a “basket of deplorables.”

It’s also true that some acts of civility that seem gracious may not actually be, such as Bill Clinton’s call to Trump after his election, which seemed to worsen matters between the men, not improve them.

But the fact that people have behaved badly in the past doesn’t absolve us of the obligation to do better in the future.

Like any family that puts aside its petty squabbles and serious differences to stand together at a wedding or gravesite, the first families have a responsibility to do so at the national level. The onus is two-fold: Both Donald and Melania Trump should be invited to events where other presidents and their spouses gather. And the Trumps should have the grace and humility to accept and be present for reasons other than a photo opp.

This is not to say that the problems surrounding Donald Trump are petty; he is the only president with a mugshot, and it’s far from clear what will happen to him — and the political process — as the 91 criminal charges against him make their way through the courts.

It also doesn’t mean that Donald Trump is ever going to be the picture of conviviality in a gathering of presidents and first ladies; Hillary Clinton sometimes looks like she’s suffering through a dental procedure at these kinds of events. But she shows up. And even though much of America may suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome and recoil at the thought of him in the ex-presidents club, Trump is an ex-president, and belongs there, if only out of respect for the office.

Rosalynn Carter’s last gift to us all was opening the door to that happening, to making sure that the wife of a president largely despised by Carter’s political party was given a seat of honor at her memorial events. It was a higher-order gesture, likely motivated by her strong religious faith. In making it, she asks something of all Americans: that we rise to the example she set.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site