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George W. Bush, Obama Reflect on a Friend and a Nation

September 2, 2018

The Washington Post

Excerpts from eulogies for Sen. John McCain, by former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

George W. Bush

On McCain’s death: “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant and distinctive, it is hard to think of them stilled. A man who seldom rested is laid to rest. And his absence is tangible, like the silence after a mighty roar.”

On their unlikely friendship: “In recent years, we sometimes talked of that intense period like football players remembering a big game. In the process, rivalry melted away. In the end, I got to enjoy one of life’s great gifts: the friendship of John McCain. And I will miss him.”

On McCain’s humanitarianism: “He respected the dignity inherent in every life -- a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators. Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots. There was something deep inside him that made him stand up for the little guy -- to speak for forgotten people in forgotten places.”

On politics today: “If we are ever tempted to forget who we are, to grow weary of our cause, John’s voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder: We are better than this. America is better than this.”

Barack Obama

On McCain asking him to speak at his funeral: “What better way to get a last laugh than to make George (Bush) 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.”

On bipartisanship: “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.”

On America’s greatness: “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 bloodline, not on what we look like, what our last names are, it’s 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.”

On politics: “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.”

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