Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a 13-year-old Rockville, Md., boy who "wrote books of inspirational poems that climbed the bestseller charts," died last week of muscular dystrophy. Among those attending his funeral, the Washington Post reports, was Jimmy Carter:
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, spoke of . . . Mattie's devotion to peace. "He was deeply aware of global affairs," Carter said, recalling that Mattie was in Children's Hospital's intensive care unit when the war in Iraq began last year.
"Mattie burst into uncontrollable sobs and grief," Carter said, and soon after, the former president received a letter from his then-12-year-old friend: "I feel like President Bush made a decision long ago about the war," Mattie wrote. "Imagine if he had spent as much time and energy . . . planning peace."
The letter continued, "Even though I want to talk to Osama bin Laden about peace in the future, I wouldn't want to be alone with him in his cave." The congregation dissolved into laughter.
"In the same letter," Carter added, "he asked if I would join him."
There is a longstanding tradition that ex-presidents do not publicly criticize their successors, a tradition for which Carter has shown such contempt that when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 2002, its members made clear they meant it as a poke in the eye of President Bush and America.
But using a child's funeral as a forum for this kind of attack is a new low.
Great Orators of the Democratic Party
" "One man with courage makes a majority."--Andrew Jackson.
" "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."--Franklin Roosevelt.
" "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."--John Kennedy.
" Many of you are well enough off that . . . the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."--Hillary Clinton.
James Taranto writes for the Wall Street Journals Web site, WSJ.com.