George W. Bush, in eulogy for John McCain, celebrates McCain's courage and how he 'detested the abuse of power' and 'swaggering despots'

Screenshot via ABCFormer President George W. Bush
  • Former President George W. Bush spoke at the late Sen. John McCain’s Saturday morning funeral service at the National Cathedral.
  • Calling McCain “a man with a code,” Bush described McCain’s commitment to American ideals above personal differences and politics, as “he was honorable, always recognising that his opponents were still patriots and human beings.”
  • Bush was one of three former presidents at the ceremony, which also drew a crowd of politicians, military leaders, and other media and Washington heavyweights.

When eulogizing the late Sen. John McCain during a funeral service on Saturday, former President George W. Bush described McCain as a fierce defender of American values who worked to protect the “set of public virtues that brought strength and purpose to his life and to his country.”

“He was courageous with a courage that frightened his captors and inspired his countrymen,” Bush said, referring to the five years McCain spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “He was honest. No matter whom it offended. Presidents were not spared.”

Calling McCain “a man with a code,” Bush celebrated McCain’s commitment to American ideals and his willingness to rise above party and politics. “He was honorable, always recognising that his opponents were still patriots and human beings.”

Bush added McCain greatly valued individual freedom and “respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators.”

“Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power, could not abide bigots and swaggering despots,” Bush continued. “He spoke up for the little guy, forgotten people in forgotten places.”

Scores of politicians, members of the military, and other Washington heavyweights from both sides of the aisle attended McCain’s service at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on Saturday.

Former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton were there, as were former vice president Al Gore and former secretary of state John Kerry. Many of McCain’s Senate colleagues and several members of the House of Representatives were also in attendance.

Many prominent conservatives were there, including former Senator Bob Dole, who was the 1996 Republican nominee, former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Sen. Orrin Hatch, former House speaker John Boehner, House speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

President Donald Trump was reportedly asked not to attend. But several members of the Trump administration attended, including chief of staff John Kelly, defence secretary James Mattis, national security adviser John Bolton, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner.

McCain, a six-term senator and war hero who died from brain cancer last week at the age of 81, was the 31st person and 13th senator to receive the rare honour to lie in state, in the US Capitol’s rotunda Friday.

A procession on Saturday morning took McCain’s body from the Capitol to the Cathedral, with a stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. After the service, McCain will be buried at his alma mater, the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next to his best friend, Adm. Chuck Larson.

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