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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

TIME Magazine Has Bush Honoring Jefferson Davis

[And Do Check The Final Update, With The Final Nail]
From the original Time story: [Try this link: TIME 2, from DeLong]

Bush has revived a practice of paying homage to an even greater champion of the Confederacy—Jefferson Davis.

They continue:

Last Memorial Day, for the second year in a row, Bush's White House sent a floral wreath to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Six days later, as the United Daughters of the Confederacy celebrated Jefferson Davis' birthday there, Washington chapter president Vicki Heilig offered a "word of gratitude to George W. Bush" for "honoring" the Old South's dead. (Emphasis added).

Well, this is puzzling. Andrew Sullivan wonders, "AFTER THE LOTT DEBACLE: Why on earth is the Bush administration doing this? "

Josh Marshall asks us to mentally spin his greatest hit, titled, "Rove and Bush are two faced race-baiters", and then explores the personalities behind the outrage. And Atrios looks on approvingly. And let's bring Adam Magazine into the mix, with several posts - scroll down. And we should not overlook the Hauser Report, which gets to this eventually.

Now, I am just stuck at the starting gate, trying to figure out how TIME jumped from Memorial Day to Jefferson Davis's birthday. Here is more info about the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. And more info about Memorial Day.

The TIME story does not give us a lot of evidence to work with. Wreaths for the war dead do seem to fit with Memorial Day, as does the concept of post-Civil War national reconciliation. And Jefferson Davis has a nearby birthday. But what is the evidence that it is the White House that is making a linkage between the wreath and Jefferson Davis? For that matter, what is the evidence that the speaker actually quoted was making such a linkage?

Oh, I know you want more. In the history of Arlington National Cemetery to which I linked, the United Daughters of the Confederacy are mentioned as initiating a Confederate monument back in in 1906. And it was one of their speakers quoted in the TIME piece. So, here is their website, and their objectives. Interesting tidbit:

The Organization places wreaths annually at the statues of General Robert E. Lee on January 19th and President Jefferson Davis on June 3rd (the dates of their birth) in Statuary Hall, United States; at the Jefferson Davis Monument, Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia, for the Annual Massing of the Flags on June 3; at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, on November 11, Veterans' Day; and at the Confederate Monument, Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day. Emphasis and links added.

So, this group has a wreath ceremony for Jefferson Davis on June 3, and a different wreath ceremony at a different place on Memorial Day to honor the war dead. And the White House sent its wreath for Memorial Day. Is TIME kidding?

OK, are the Daughters a crazed hate group? If they are, they seem to have a flair for understatement. In fact, this site describes them as "relatively mainstream", although it worries about the company they keep. But picking through the objectives of this group, we see they offer a number of academic awards. My favorites are:

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine: The Jefferson Davis Award to an undergraduate excelling in Constitutional Law;

University of Virginia: The Jefferson Davis Award to a student for excellence in Constitutional Law.

OK, I have no hope for UVA, but Bowdoin? Way up there in Maine?

UPDATE: OK, the Confederacy is a lost cause, and good riddance. But am I headed for the "Department of Lost Causes" myself? Maureen Dowd gleefully recounts the TIME story in her column, which is soundly thrashed by the Man Sans Q. However, a flicker of hope! Ms Dowd says:

...as Time notes this week, he quietly reinstituted the practice — which lapsed under his father in 1990 — of sending a floral wreath on Memorial Day from the White House to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, where those nostalgic for the Old South celebrate Jefferson Davis.

Factually closer to the truth, and she does not exactly repeat the idea that the Bush White House thinks there is a link between the wreath and Jefferson Davis. Did she smell something fishy, but decide to nibble anyway? Next week, perhaps she will have a bitter column denouncing the fact that both George Bush and the head of the KKK watched the Super Bowl! Not together, of course, but still....

MORE UPDATES: Here is the text of a Son of Confederate Veterans speaking at a Jefferson Davis tribute, and the Daughters were there. Oh, man, the South had the true religion? I want someone to loose the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.

FINAL UPDATE: What was TIME smoking? Was this story part of a subtle anti-drug, anti-alcohol campaign? Your magazine / Your magazine on drugs? The Ooold Crow links to the Washington Times and CNN, who agree - this Memorial Day wreath practice was not stopped by Bush I, was continued by Clinton, and signifies very little. And yes, MoDo probably should have made a few phone calls to verify this.

Our man in North Georgia has a bit of an honor roll...

CONT.: Props to Josh Marshall, who is kind enough not to wonder when TIME will get an editor. And I should stick up for Atrios myself - he linked to Marshall a few days back. I posted my doubts in his ephemeral comments, and he was back shortly with a "Good point."

CONT.: TIME retraction. Updated honor roll.

Hmm, let's print the retraction - who knows how long it will be there?

The following correction was issued by TIME on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003

The article "Look Away, Dixieland" [Jan. 27] stated that President George W. Bush "quietly reinstated" a tradition of having the White House deliver a floral wreath to the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery — a practice "that his father had halted in 1990." The story is wrong. First, the elder president Bush did not, as TIME reported, end the decades-old practice of the White House delivering a wreath to the Confederate Memorial; he changed the date on which the wreath is delivered from the day that some southern heritage groups commemorate Jefferson Davis's birthday to the federal Memorial Day holiday. Second, according to documents provided by the White House this week, the practice of delivering a wreath to the Confederate Memorial on Memorial Day continued under Bill Clinton as it does under George W. Bush.

AND MORE: The resourceful Brad DeLong not only excerpted just about the whole TIME - Bush - Jefferson Davis story, he set up a link that did not die.

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