Carter Snubbed for Pope Funeral
The American Spectator reports this morning that former President Jimmy Carter lobbied to be part of the U.S. delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II but was snubbed by the Bush administration.
More details are emerging about the White House’s decision — really President Bush’s personal decision — not to include former President Jimmy Carter in the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
According to White House sources, Carter’s representatives, apparently from the former president’s Carter Center, reached out to the White House over the weekend and offered to lead the U.S. delegation should the President or other senior Bush administration officials not be able to attend. “There was no misunderstanding. It wasn’t Carter who made the actual call, but the message was pure Carter gumption,” says a White House source. “We were getting lots of calls from lots of people looking to get on this delegation. I would say over the weekend alone we got more than 100 requests, maybe more.”
Carter went public on Tuesday with his dissatisfaction at not being invited, after the White House announced that the official delegation would be made up of the current and two prior sitting Presidents, and Secretary of State Rice.
Carter’s schtick as self-appointed good will ambassador has certainly worn thin and there is no doubt that he has been an irritant to President Bush, constantly criticizing him in public, something from which former presidents typically refrain. Still, a papal funeral seems an appropriate time to set aside such things.
Update: The White House denies this account, saying Carter withdrew voluntarily.
CARTER ODD MAN OUT ON TRIP (NY Post)
In a surprise move that raised eyebrows, former President Jimmy Carter yesterday said he had been passed over by President Bush for the official delegation to the pope’s funeral. Carter said he asked the White House to go, but “was quite willing to withdraw his request” when told only five could go. The official delegation Ã¢€” limited to five by the Vatican Ã¢€” includes President and Mrs. Bush, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, “We reached out to [Carter] to be part of the delegation. It was his decision to make. We would have been more than happy to have him as part of the delegation.”
An AP account (AJC) is essentially the same.
That would have meant leaving Rice or Mrs. Bush behind. Carter’s account is odd. Either he was “passed over” or he was “quite willing to withdraw his request.”
Update: See also, Santorum and Kennedy to Attend Pope Funeral. It seems that dozens of Congressmen are going.
(Apr. 8) Funeral Controversy Reignites Carter-Bush Feud: Carter was invited, twice, by the Bush team and he declined.