I once wrote a dissertation on ‘101 uses for a corpse’- to reach my alloted target I really had to scrape the barrel, dragging up the French law which allows a corpse to marry amongst other things, but, I confess, I missed out the political advantage a corpse can be put to.
We have had some of the finest examples this week since John Smith’s rotting cadaver was invoked to put a shine on young Tony Blair. “It’s what John would have wanted” is an emotional tag in the wake of the near state funeral of a politician.
Mandelson was first out of the trap this week with a carefully crafted (is it ever any other way?) slur against Dan Hannan by rattling the supposed racist bones of Enoch Powell. Hannan had said that Powell was an inspiration to him, and naturally, if you are of the ilk that assumes Powell’s only contribution to politics was the oft misquoted ‘rivers of blood’ speech, then that was good enough to slur Hannan, and by extension, the entire Conservative Party.
Over the pond, the exhumation squad is busy with Ted Kennedy. Last scion of the Kennedy dynasty, his most recent attempt to escape the shame of Chappaquiddick was to throw his support behind both Obama and more particularly Obama’s health-care reforms.
Aware that he was dying, he attempted to rattle his own bones ahead of the due date, by pleading with state leaders to change state law to posthumously fill his Senate seat with an interim appointee who would be a vote in favor of the health care legislation he championed.
Now that he has decently achieved cadaver status, Senator Robert Byrd is petitioning the senate to change the name of the Health Bill to the Kennedy Bill in his honour. “It’s what Ted would have wanted”.
Not surprisingly, Conservative voices, remembering the brouhaha that accompanied Senator Wellstone’s memorial service which turned into a rallying call for Democrats everywhere, are crying foul at this politicisation of yet another funeral.
Rush Limbaugh, that well known reticent (!!) Conservative voice said:
“Placing [Kennedy’s] name on a health-care bill, in memoriam, or using his name as a sympathy ploy to advance a health care bill that would deny Americans the choices Sen. Kennedy had, is an insult, and is supreme hypocrisy. The senator’s passing is going to give them the opportunity to use the sympathy play to get as much done in his name as possible. No government was a partner with God in Ted Kennedy’s death. To put his name on this current health-care bill would be to insult what he stood for,”
There is a natural logic to the political and social use of a funeral, it is a celebration of a life and the works of that life. As inevitable as the use of the funeral by partisans is the attempt to repress the funeral or the memorial by the forces of reaction.
Bone rattling isn’t an exclusively Left wing preoccupation, anti-abortion conservatives campaign by holding up pictures of dead fetuses to compel a change of the law on a women’s right to decide on a pregnancy. Death has been used as a weapon by conservatives for many, many years.
I do find it no small coincidence that Obama just ‘happened’ to be on holiday at Martha’s Vineyard when Ted Kennedy passed away. How long was this planned? Or was there a tip off by a doctor, indicating that time was short … It was certainly politically expedient for Obama to be there.
Ted Kennedy is being elevated from drunken Chappaquiddick driver to near sainthood in death by the Democrats and the Main Stream Media, and seemingly for the purpose of garnering emotional support for what he called “the cause of his life”.
Obama promised transparency in the new administration – is this what he meant?
Edited to add: Guido has uncovered some more bones – HERE