The McCain standard: writer’s reflections on Obama’s Eulogy to Senator John McCain

By Isabel Paris || Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of Politico

Senator John McCain recently passed on August 25 after declining any further treatment for his cancer. At his funeral, McCain had requested for both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies. The funeral was packed with family and friends along with major political leaders. While former President Obama could have used this time to highlight McCain’s past victories and laugh about their battles during the election seasons, he took the time to discuss his friend’s honor, service, and dedication to the ideals of democracy.

At first glance, the eulogy seemed mundane to me; however, once I began to look into the language and passion used to describe McCain’s moral character and strong values, I realized that in our political climate today, McCain’s beliefs are seen as taboo.

Our political climate is filled with division, controversy, and a lack of respect for the rules and laws that the Founders had put in place. President Obama reminds the audience that “John cared about the institutions of self-government, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, rule of law, separation of powers, even the arcane rules and procedures of the Senate.” The former President’s decision to list these common practices and highlight the best aspects of McCain simultaneously reprimanded President Trump without ever mentioning his name.

Obama implies that the corruption of our political system “can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage.” During the 2008 Presidential Election, Obama reflects on how McCain would never fall for the deep partisan divisions while also remaining strong in his values and beliefs. He was never afraid to work across the party lines if it was for the betterment of the nation.

This is in contrast towards the fickle nature of President Trump, who has displayed on many occasions his ever-changing attitude towards cooperation and policy issues.

Obama and McCain were known for having a friendship and would rely on one another for the occasional advice. Obama said that he “never doubted we were on the same team. For all of our differences, we shared a fidelity to the ideals of which generations of Americans have marched and fought…and given their lives.” Regardless of their contrasting politics, McCain never let that cloud his morals or duty to the US.

In the speech, President Obama continued in proving McCain’s character by highlighting his commitment to true and honest work while in government. Obama asserted McCain’s belief that “if we get in the habit of bending the truth to suit political expediency or party orthodoxy, our democracy will not work.”

It is ironic hearing those words as political ideologies in our country continue to pull farther and farther away. This has only been encouraged by our leaders in government and the media feeding into this new wave of politics.

Too many times have our policies been shifted or removed for the convenience of a political leader. Too many times have we been accused of not being faithful to our party if we are not aligned with the extreme wings of the ideological scale. Obama explained that Senator McCain allowed for others to look at both sides of the aisle and decide what is for the best of the nation and not for our own selfish needs.

The former President finished out his eulogy by mirroring the dream of Senator McCain in bringing passion towards the public in fighting for their rights as citizens. Obama points to McCain’s dream of us all rising above “party or ambition, or money, or fame, or power” to support and sustain the ideals of democracy.

    

Sophomore Isabel Paris is a Contributing Writer. Her email is iparis@fandm.edu.

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