Want to be president? Start quoting a King

Decades-old words of civil rights leader play well in public

For the Record

December 21, 2003|By THE HARTFORD COURANT

He is the ultimate man for all seasons, a beacon of nonviolence, icon in the black community and - most importantly for Democratic presidential candidates scrambling for votes - giver of great quotes.

For all of those reasons, we've noticed that the eloquent words of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are being revived as candidates flog their messages and cast for quick credibility with a good chunk of the Democratic base.

King quotes and references flew fast and furious when candidates made indignant over Gov. Howard Dean's comments about wanting to attract Southern white male voters with Confederate flags on their trucks, and during the year they've been a daily staple in the stump speeches of many.

Frankly, we're thankful. King's words always seem to soar above the babble.

A sampling:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, March 3: " `Somehow this madness must cease,' said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 35 years ago as he spoke out against the war in Vietnam."

Sen. John Kerry, March 13: "Martin Luther King said that we are tied each to the other in `a single garment of destiny.' "

Carol Moseley Braun, June 5: "In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the Declaration of Independence a `Declaration of Intent.' "

Gov. Howard Dean, June 23: "Martin Luther King Jr. said, `Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' "

Sen. John Edwards, Aug. 28: "As Dr. King said, `With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.' "

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Oct. 5: "My friends, I do not dare compare myself with a modern Moses like Dr. Martin Luther King. But we all try to learn from great men. We all try to gather strength from their example."

Gen. Wesley Clark, Oct 14: "As Dr. Martin Luther King said, `Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.' "

The Rev. Al Sharpton, Nov. 4: "First of all, Martin Luther King said, `Come to the table of brotherhood.' You can't bring a Confederate flag to the table of brotherhood."

Rep. Dick Gephardt, Nov. 18: "I will be a president who always understands that we are bound together. As Martin Luther King said, `I can't be what I ought to be until you can be what you ought to be.' "

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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