Two ex-presidents from opposing parties united Saturday to honor US senator John McCain, in a momentous funeral that championed his aspirations of political comity but also rebuked the tribalism and division trafficked by Donald Trump.
As millions tuned in to the nationally televised memorial attended by the breadth of Washington powerbrokers, Trump himself was notably absent — leaving the capital to head to his golf club in Virginia just when eulogies to McCain were being delivered.
And while Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama offered subtle swipes at the current commander in chief, McCain’s daughter Meghan used the words of Trump’s campaign slogan to deliver a searing, unmistakable rebuke.
“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said, to extended applause.
As Bush and Obama praised McCain for repeatedly placing country over party or self, the stunning contrast between the unifying ceremony under the neo- Gothic arches of Washington National Cathedral and an outcast Trump only highlighted the astonishing state of US politics.
Hailing his friend as “an extraordinary man” who embodied what is best in America, Obama said McCain, who battled fiercely but respectfully in the political arena, “made us better presidents — just as he made the Senate better, just as he made the country better.”
He was echoing similar sentiments expressed minutes earlier by Bush, who defeated McCain in a “hard fought” Republican primary battle in 2000, only to see that bitter rivalry melt away into a lasting friendship.