I want to defend former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for a moment, so bear with me.
The media have reported extensively on her refusal to acknowledge the arrival this week of Donald J. Trump at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush. She sat in her front-row church pew seat, looking straight ahead while the president and first lady Melania Trump greeted former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.
Hillary sat next to her husband, another former president, Bill Clinton. To her left was former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter; the Carters didn’t acknowledge the president’s arrival, either.
So, why the hubbub? I guess it’s because the Obamas were able to muster up the courtesy of extending their hands to the Trumps. Many in the media have asked: Why didn’t Hillary Clinton do the same thing and pretend to make nice with a fake smile?
If only the president had won the 2016 election with a smidgen of grace. If only he had defeated Hillary Clinton and then kept his trap shut. He didn’t do that. He has continued to suggest that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for unspecified crimes and locked up. He has defamed her, insulted her at every turn, denigrated her service to the country (which far outstrips anything Trump has done or ever will do).
It’s helpful as well to ask: How would any of us act if we encountered someone who continually defames our character and suggests the things Trump has done with Hillary Clinton?
I give the Obamas credit for smiling and shaking the Trumps’ hands. They are better people than I would have been in that circumstance, given the things that Trump has said about his immediate presidential predecessor.
As for Hillary Clinton’s declining to acknowledge Trump, I am OK with that, too.
I am certain that every word all the former presidents and their spouses heard from the pulpit by those honoring the late President Bush — the descriptions of his decency, humanity and his decades of public service — drew immediate comparisons to the man sitting at the end of that church pew.