01 July 2006


Mr. Koizumi Goes to Memphis

You've likely already read, with some degree of amusement, how President Bush took Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi to Graceland in Memphis, Tennesee, yesterday. Okay, that was cool, although you have to believe it would've been a lot more fun for Koizumi if he had had the chance to do that while Bubba -- I mean Bill Clinton -- was still President. (Image of Koizumi wearing Elvis's shades, right, by Mike Maple of the Commerical Appeal.)

(If you've never been to Graceland, it defined the idea of "white trash with money," at a time when Toby Keith and Confederate Railroad were still candy bars in their daddys' back pockets. (For what it's worth: Mack's in OKC as I type, and he had lunch at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.))

What you might've missed, however -- and I haven't seen this reported at any of the Big Journalism usual suspects -- is that Bush and Koizumi went to the National Civil Rights Museum which occupies the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in 1968. One can argue that that, too, would've benefited by Clinton as host and tour guide moreso than Bush. Still, it is good to know that Bush or his handlers at least have the good sense to go through the motions of honoring more than just Big E while in Memphis.

The motorcade surprised those in the South Main area -- and the hungry media -- by making an unexpected stop at the National Civil Rights Museum. Bush greeted several stunned children with handshakes and shoulder taps.

The president and prime minister took a quick tour and later stood on the Lorraine Motel's balcony with former NAACP president Dr. Benjamin Hooks and AutoZone founder Pitt Hyde.

Standing behind the wreath that marks the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968, Hyde and Hooks pointed across the street to the former boarding house from where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots. That building, now part of the museum, was not cleared, and people were crowded up to the windows to watch.

Complete story here from the Memphis Commercial Appeal (all together now: "More commercial than appealing!"). Registration required.

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