When The President Commemorates The Dead

March 17, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Juliet Eilperin wrote about the statements that American Presidents release commemorating the dead:

  • There are no formal rules to who a President does and doesn’t honour upon their passing.
  • Reagan, for example, limited his accolades to individuals who had held office, and the Hollywood figures he had personally known.
  • Obama is freer with his statements, frequently recognizing cultural leaders such as Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Spock.
  • Analysis shows that over a quarter of the dead that Obama has recognized were African American. As a proportion the second George Bush recognized less than half as many.
  • Obama has also released more statements upon the passing of Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
  • George Bush, in contrast, was more likely to commemorate religious leaders, dignitaries, and even Presidential pets.
  • The statements themselves are often written by aides, but the President will often review, perhaps edit, and then sign off on them.
  • The messages are rarely written in advance. Each death leads to a scramble to put some words together.
  • At times there is confusion over whether or not the President should say something. Bill Clinton ultimately decided to say nothing upon the passing of Kurt Cobain, afraid that doing so could spur copycat suicides.

The full article includes many more details including how Nixon’s death was approached, interesting figures that have been recognized by Presidents past and present, and other fascinating tidbits of information. You should read it here.

Source: The Washington Post