In the sea of people who will be attending Pope John Paul II's funeral, you won't find former President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize winner, first American president to welcome a pope to the White House and as much a defender of human rights and an advocate for the poor as the late pope.Hmm... According to the New York Times,
President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush will attend the Friday funeral mass, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the elder former President Bush (41) and the president's father's new best friend, Bill "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" Clinton.
Carter, whose moral compass on matters of living his Baptist faith and keeping to his marital vows has never been questioned, got shut out.
The White House maintains that Carter wasn't snubbed by Bush. "We would have been more than happy to have him," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said this week. "It was his decision to make."
A Carter Center spokesman simply stated that the former president "was quite willing to withdraw his request when he was subsequently informed that the official delegation would be limited to just five people, and there were also others who were eager to attend."
According to a pool report filed by reporters aboard Air Force One, Mr. Bush asked his father and Mr. Clinton to join him on Wednesday morning during his intelligence briefing.The Associated Press notes,
President Bush and two of his White House predecessors knelt in silent tribute Wednesday before Pope John II's body in St. Peter's Basilica.So, let me get this straight: Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice bumped President Carter. I'm guessing Laura was "eager to attend."
The three made a beeline for the Vatican in their motorcade after an eight-hour flight from Washington. They are leading a U.S. delegation that also includes first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice here for the pope's funeral Friday.