Former President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at a memorial service for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. McCain died Aug. 25, from brain cancer at age 81.
Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Former President Barack Obama remembered Sen. John McCain as an honorable man who made him a better president during his eulogy at the Arizona lawmaker’s funeral Saturday.

Former President George W. Bush also delivered a eulogy, something that Obama joked about during his remarks. Obama said he was saddened and fairly surprised when McCain called him earlier this year and asked that he deliver his eulogy, according to video provided by CNN.


“But after our conversation ended, I realized how well [the phone conversation] captured some of John’s essential qualities,” Obama said. “To start, John liked being unpredictable, even contrarian. He had no interest in conforming to some pre-packaged 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,” Obama continued.It showed his irreverence, his sense of humor, a little bit of a mischievous streak. After all, what better way to get the last laugh than to get George and I to say nice things about him to a national audience.”

Today marks the last public tribute to McCain after a week of services celebrating his life. He will be buried and honored in a private service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Absent from all of the memorial services was Donald Trump, who had a very rocky relationship with McCain and did not have the dignity to release a decent statement of condolence after the senator’s death. Trump also had to issue a proclamation to keep the White House flying at half-staff until McCain’s burial after the flag was raised to full-staff less than 48 hours after McCain’s death.

Taking a swipe at Trump at today’s funeral was McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, when she said during her remarks, “The America of John McCain doesn’t need to be made great again because America was always great.”


Meghan McCain began: “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 lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner, were in the audience during Meghan McCain’s remarks.


Trump was not invited to the funeral, at the request of McCain himself, a good decision given that he would have spoiled the mood anyway.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

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