Former President Barack Obama eulogized Senator John McCain today at his memorial service in Washington, describing a man who knew that some principles are eternal and worth risking everything for, “bigger than party, or ambition, or money, or fame, or power. John showed us what that means.”
Obama talked of his personal relationship with his former presidential campaign adversary, noting how they would have private one-on-one conversations in the White House oval office where they would talk politics, family, and share laughs and disagreements.
“Our disagreements didn’t go away during these private conversations,” Obama said. “They were real and often deep. But we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights and learned from each other.” Obama said the discussions proved to him, “We were on the same page page when all was said and done. We never doubted we were on the same team.”
Obama called McCain at the top of his speech, “A warrior, a statesman, a patriot who embodied so much that is best in America.” Obama also noted McCain’s famous temper, his blunt assessments of Obama’s perceived mistakes, “his irreverence, his sense of humor, his mischievous streak, a largeness of spirit, an ability to see past differences and find common ground.”
“I have a reputation of keeping cool – John, not so much. John never hesitated to tell me when he thought I was screwing up, which, by his calculation, was once a day,” Obama joked.
Obama then quoted one of McCain’s favorite books, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, noting, “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.”
“Much has been said this week about what a maverick John was,” Obama said. “Trust me, I was on the receiving end of some of those votes. But he did understand that some principles transcend politics. He considered it part of his duty to uphold those values.” He added: “That’s why he bucked his party.”