While speaking at Senator John McCain’s funeral on Saturday, former President Obama said McCain made him and former President George W. Bush “better presidents, just as he made the Senate better, just as he made this country better.
Obama said, “President Bush and I are among the fortunate few who competed against John at the highest levels of politics. He 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’s still alive, to stand and speak of him when he’s gone, is a precious and singular honor. Now, when John called me with that request earlier this year, I’ll admit sadness, and also a certain surprise. But after our conversation ended, I realized how well it captured some of John’s essential qualities.”
Obama continued, “To start with, John liked being unpredictable, even a little contrarian. He had no interest in conforming to some prepackaged version of what a senator should be, and he didn’t want a memorial that was going to be prepackaged either. It also showed John’s disdain for self-pity. He had been to hell and back, and yet somehow never lost his energy or his optimism or his zest for life. So, cancer did not scare him, and he would maintain that buoyant spirit to the very end, too stubborn to sit still, opinionated as ever, fiercely devoted to his friends and most of all, to his family. It showed his irreverence, his sense of humor, a little bit of a mischievous streak. After all, what better way to get a last laugh than to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience? And most of all, it showed a largeness of spirit, an ability to see past differences in search of common ground.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett