The late Senator John McCain reportedly asked former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush earlier this year to deliver eulogies at his funeral. Both men, former political rivals, accepted the honor but were also surprised, CNN reported.
In an effort to deliver “a parting lesson American civility,” along with one last dig at President Trump, CNN reports that Obama and Bush were asked to deliver eulogies at Saturday’s memorial service at the National Cathedral while President Trump will not be invited.
The Bush invitation wasn’t entirely unexpected given the fact that McCain actually campaigned for Bush in 2004 after being defeated by the then-Texas governor in 2000, but “McCain’s decision to invite Obama to speak at his funeral stands out as far more extraordinary, given their brutal and bitter rivalry during the 2008 presidential race,” wrote CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
But McCain’s decision to ask Obama and Bush to eulogize him is part of a carefully choreographed — and, yes, even strategic — message for America and the world in the wake of his death. It’s also perhaps, one last opportunity for McCain to try and tamp down a fervor that first awoke in the Republican Party during his 2008 race and has swelled ever since.
“I think it is John McCain imparting a lesson in civility by asking the two men who defeated him to speak, as an example to America that differences in political views and contests shouldn’t be so important that we lose our common bonds and the civility that is, or used to be, a hallmark of American democracy,” McCain friend and 2008 campaign adviser Steve Duprey told CNN.
Aides told CNN that Obama and McCain have only spoken twice since President Trump assumed office – once Obama thanked McCain for saving the Affordable Care Act – but had a relationship “rooted in mutual respect and a shared sense of alarm at today’s caustic political climate.”
Former Vice-President Joe Biden will also deliver a eulogy at McCain’s memorial service.