Obama, Bush Remember McCain as Man Who’d ‘Not Abide Bigots and Swaggering Despots’
“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” Meghan McCain said, adding later to applause that “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.”
Meghan McCain remembered “the love of a father who mentors as much as comforts” and said she came to appreciate how much he suffered and how he triumphed over the years of torture he endured at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors. She said that when she asked her father what she should say in his eulogy, he replied, “Show them how tough you are.”
“We live in an era where we knock down old American heroes for all their imperfections when no leader wants to admit to fault or failure,” she said. “You were an exception and gave us an ideal to strive for.”
Obama said that McCain “made us better presidents just as he made the Senate better, just as he made this country better — so for someone like John to ask you while he is still alive to stand and speak of him when he is gone is a precious and singular honor.”
He quipped that McCain asking his former presidential competitor to eulogize him showed “a little bit of a mischievous streak, after all, what better way to get a last laugh than make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience.”
“I think John came to understand the long-standing admiration that I had for him,” he added.
“John believed in honest argument and hearing other views. He understood that if we get in the habit of bending the truth to suit political expediency or party orthodoxy, our democracy will not work. That’s why he was willing to buck his own party at times. Occasionally work across the aisle on campaign finance reform and immigration reform. That’s why he championed a free and independent press as vital to our democratic debate and the fact it earned him good coverage didn’t hurt either,” Obama said.
“John understood as JFK understood, as Ronald Reagan understood, that part of what makes our country great is that our membership is based not on our blood line, not on what we look like, what our last names are, not based on where our parents or grandparents came from or how recently they arrived, but on adherence to a common creed that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,” he added. “It has been mentioned today, and we’ve seen footage this week John pushing back against supporters who challenged my patriotism during the 2008 campaign. I was grateful but I wasn’t surprised.”