MSNBC's Hayes: Obama 'Should Go' to Scalia Funeral — And Why He Won't

February 17th, 2016 9:22 PM

MSNBC's Chris Hayes is usually right less often than a stopped clock, i.e., fewer than two times a day. But he might get lucky if by some miracle he's right about something else today besides the matter discussed in this post.

After the Obama administration announced that President Barack Obama will not attend Saturday's funeral for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch Catholic, Hayes tweeted that Obama should be there, and explained why he actually got something right for a change, i.e., he relied on his mother's advice (HT Twitchy via Instapundit):


As reported at NBC News via Hot Air, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is claiming that "the president will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on Friday and he’ll be joined with the first lady when he does that."

For those who believe that is sufficient in the circumstances, NBC reminds readers that the last time a sitting Supreme Court justice died, "Former President George W. Bush attended the funeral for Chief Justice William Rehnquist." (By the way, the Associated Press's related story does not cite Bush's attendance at Rehnquist's funeral, even though it mentions that "Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in 2005, was the last member of the high court to lie in repose.")

I suspect that no one will ever admit it, but it is eminently reasonable to contend that the real reason Obama will not attend Scalia's funeral is that he doesn't want to have to potentially "suffer" the embarrassment then-President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and a host of other abortion-on-demand-supporting politicians and officials from around the world suffered in May of 2000 at the funeral of Cardinal John O'Connor in New York.

Here's what happened:

Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston led the church dignitaries in celebrating O'Connor's life with a homily that provoked a standing ovation when Law said, "What a great legacy he has left us in his constant reminder that the church must be unambiguously prolife." The sustained ovation, which appeared to originate with a group of priests and then slowly to work its way through the cathedral, clearly discomfited some of the elected officials, some of whom support abortion rights and reluctantly stood with the crowd but did not join in the applause.

It should surprise no one that the Associated Press's coverage of the cardinal's funeral found in the Proquest Library database did not mention this moment.

Video taken at the time, which I could not locate after fairly extensive searching, clearly showed how mortified Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were. As I recall, only Fox News aired the video, which appeared on Brit Hume's Special Report broadcast.

A few days after the funeral, as noted in the Media Research Center's May 12, 2000 CyberAlert, the Today Show's Matt Lauer was clearly outraged — that the Clintons even stood up:

Opening the 7:30am segment, Lauer inquired: ... "Something that happened Monday, here in New York. You attended the funeral mass for John Cardinal O'Connor and during the homily delivered by Cardinal Law of Boston he said and I'm quoting, 'What a great legacy he has left us,' talking about Cardinal O'Connor, 'in his constant reminder that the Church must always be unambiguously pro-life.' And the congregation rose as did the President, you rose, the Vice President, Mrs. Gore, Rudolph Giuliani and you stood there for this standing ovation. Standing for something that is in opposition to what you believe. And I'm curious what was going through your mind at that point?"

Clinton: "It was a sign of respect...."

Lauer: "But you had already shown your respect by attending the funeral and didn't it lend to the image that politicians will stand in almost any group that is politically beneficial and march in any parade?"

I suspect that Obama is keenly aware of the (in their minds) humiliation the Clintons endured at the hands of a congregation which made as clear a statement as one will ever hear that all life is precious, and that no one will ever change their minds. If not, someone in his group of advisers almost certainly is. The notoriously thin-skinned Obama and his apparatchiks will not allow him to be placed in a potentially similar situation — especially in the Internet Age, when the press would be less effective in covering it up. Team Obama will let Vice President Biden and others take one for the team.

Cross-posted at