Former President Barack Obama delivered a challenge to all Americans in his Saturday eulogy for the late Republican Senator John McCain, saying that we should live by the example his former political opponent set.
“John called on us to be bigger than that,” he said. “He called on us to be better than that.”
Obama recalled his initial surprise at being asked to speak on behalf of the man he once defeated in a tough battle for the White House, but then admitted that he probably should have seen it coming.
“After our conversation ended,” he explained, “I realized how well it captured some of John’s essential qualities. 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.”
Obama praised McCain the warrior, McCain the statesman, and McCain the patriot, making the case that he had “made us better presidents, just as he made the Senate better, just as he made this country better” and that he had “embodied so much of what is best in America.”
He went on to cheer McCain’s influence on the current political conversation, saying that the late senator had called us to a higher standard of behavior. He said, “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.”
You can watch his full remarks below:
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