See, this is what happens when politicians go to military funerals uninvited.

Governor Rendell to send apology to Marine’s family over Lieutenant Governor’s comments.

Now, I do not know the exact nature of Catherine Baker Knoll’s comments, and I will allow for the very real possibility that they were misconstrued or misinterpreted either by family members at a moment of extreme stress, or by political opponents. However, that possibility wouldn’t have been possible had she not been present at a function typically reserved for friends and family members of the deceased.

If she wished to show sympathy, she should have sent flowers, or a card, or even a covered dish. But her presence at the funeral was obviously a disruptive event, and a political liability for her and the administration she serves.

THis should be kept in mind by the vocal folks who argue in threads here that Bush or other politicians should attend military funerals. Catherine Baker Knoll proves that politicians should not, unless they know the servicemember involved or are invited. They should show their sympathy in more appropriate ways.

I’m as against the war as they come, and I’m not a fan of politicians attending funerals uninvited (albeit for different reasons), but what she said was way out of line, and her apology needs to be quick and sincere. On the other hand, those calling for her to resign over this are a bit over the top.

Regarding why I don’t like them at funerals that they weren’t invited to, I tend to think of politicians (of all stripes) as photo-op addicts, who have a hard time doing anything apolitical.

I agree that it’s in bad taste for a politician (or anyone else) to make political remarks at a funeral, but I don’t agree that it “proves” that politicians should simply stay away from them entirely.

In particular, AFAIK, nobody has ever suggested that the President should just walk into military funerals unannounced and unexpected, complete with Secret Service agents and press corps. It would be perfectly possible for the White House to arrange for his attendance in advance, in the case of particular bereaved military families who would welcome his presence and be honored by it. (And there must be at least hundreds of such families who would indeed consider it a great honor.)

That’s what Gov Ted Kulongoski of Oregon does for every funeral of an Oregon servicemember. Other elected officials routinely attend funerals of servicepeople in their own constituencies.

Similarly, earlier Presidents including Ronald Reagan have also attended military funerals and memorial services. Just because it’s not a good idea for politicians to breeze into military funerals unannounced and make political comments doesn’t mean that no elected official should ever attend one.

So no, I don’t think this incident should let Bush off the hook, in the opinion of those who feel that a President should honor those who die fighting in his wars by paying his respects at a military funeral at least now and then. I personally don’t care whether politicians choose to do this or not, but if they do, it’s pretty easy to arrange it so that nobody’s feelings will be hurt (which is what Knoll should have done).

Over here, an official ceremony is generally held, that some high-ranking official (or the president, when there’s a number of military KIA at the same time, but given the number of US losses in Irak i assume that would be impractica) attends to. The funerals proper are mostly left to the families. So, you can both have an official recognition and no unwanted presence during the burial.

You make it sound, Kimstu, as if Bush hasn’t attended any official memorial services. In fact he has, and they are entirely in keeping with those services traditionally attended by presidents, and rightly so.

Remarks by President Bush at the memorial service for victims of the Pentagon terrorist attack.

Bush’s 2003 Veteran’s Day address.

Bush’s 2005 Memorial Day address.

There are more, but this is representative.

Perhaps the problem is the American habit of treating Memorial Day as the kickoff to summer instead of a day to, you know, memorialize American war dead. Sometimes I think the only people in the DC area who get this right are the president, the military, and a whole lot of Harley owners.

Just an observation, based on years of living here.

Who gave Knoll the podium, anyway? She shouldn’t have gone, she shouldn’t have spoken. If she was asked to come and speak, fine. But she wasn’t and it isn’t right to spoil someone’s funeral. That being said, if she had praised the war effort, would the family have been offended? I wager the answer is no. Although I disagree with their reaction, it was their funeral and they had the right to be left alone.

As far as I can tell, Knoll’s sins were asking for introductions during communion and handing a family member her business card.

Without confirmation that she otherwise made an ass of herself, this is a tempest in a teapot.

He hasn’t attended any funerals or services specifically to honor the soldiers killed in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, which is what some people have been complaining about. Yup, he spoke at the service for 9/11 terrorism victims in the Pentagon, and he has participated in standard memorial events on the military-themed holidays, but that’s not the same thing.

Personally, as I said, I don’t care whether or not he goes to funerals for the Iraq war dead. I just don’t buy your argument that an isolated incident of tactlessness on the part of a lieutenant governor is a sufficient excuse for him to avoid them.

Communion isn’t the time to be politically gladhanding, as anyone with a lick of sense should know. It’s a time when you should keep your big trap shut, whoever you are.

And I did allow for the possibility that a big deal is being made here of a small incident. But this wouldn’t have happened if Knoll hadn’t been there in the first place.

I believe adequate concern and sympathy could have been expressed to the family throught the services of Hallmark Card and the USPS. Catherine Baker Knoll didn’t have to go to this funeral, and she shouldn’t have gone.

are we discussing the same incident? According to the article I read, she didn’t have any “podium” and didn’t speak. She made a comment to the deceased’s aunt.

You’re right. Mea culpa. Didn’t read the incident thoroughly enough. In my estimation, that makes it less of an offense. Still in bad taste to go where you aren’t welcome.

So, you’re using the fact that the Lieutenant Governor made a political point out of this funeral in order to make your own political point out of this funeral?

Good to know that the politicization of tragedy remains bipartisan.



I guess such a high-profile display is just too much for Mr. Moto’s brand of “‘compassionate’ conservatism”.

I seriously doubt that a US president ever attends any event, including a funeral, unannounced. The security arrangements alone are a sufficient clue to anyone not in a coma.


I have to ask: are American military funerals invitation-only? Because I’ve been to funerals here in Israel with thousands attending, and I doubt they were all invited.

I already posted this in the MPSIMS thread on the topic, but I might as well repeat it here: Knoll has a reputation for odd behavior, and it is believed that Ed Rendell’s trying to get her dumped from the ticket (and has been trying for a while): Here’s an example

Well, AFAIK, “military funerals” technically refers to funeral ceremonies for servicemembers or veterans at which official military funeral honors are provided. These can be full honor-guard funerals at a national cemetery or more modest ceremonies with just a few military honors provided by members of local veterans’ groups.

American funerals were traditionally open to all who wished to pay their respects to the deceased, and were usually (and still often are) announced in newspaper obituaries and other public forums so that people who weren’t close friends or family members would be able to attend them.

So technically, it is not an etiquette violation to show up as a mourner at a publicly announced funeral or memorial service, even if you didn’t personally know the deceased. If you did know the deceased or if you’re attending the funeral in an official capacity, you should introduce yourself to one of the deceased’s friends or family members and express your condolences, and/or sign the guest register. If you’re just an admirer from afar, though, you shouldn’t force your acquaintance on people who are actually grieving for a personal loss.

A private funeral ceremony, on the other hand, should not be gate-crashed, no matter how sincerely you wish to express your grief and sympathy.

I find it very reasonable that there’s a good chance that many families would not want an anti-war state politician (if that’s indeed a reasonable way to describe the lieutenant governor) at the funeral of their son, daughter, husband, or wife. Going uninvited was a terrible mistake, and probably downright rude.

I find it very hard to believe that not one family of those 1,986 individuals who have been killed in or around Iraq and Afghanistan would have liked to have the President of the United States present at the funeral of their loved one. If the President wanted to attend a funeral, I’m completely confident that the White House could arrange it forthwith. It seems to me that the President has decided not to attend any funeral, regardless of whether the family would be honored to have our chief of state and commander in chief in attendence.

Maybe the White House insisted on having all of the family members sign loyalty oaths before Bush would deign to visit? :wink: