Former president George W. Bush, who went toe to toe with McCain in a bitter Republican presidential primary in 2000, spoke of his friend as a man whose valor and concern for all people should serve as an example for today’s politicians.
On McCain’s death: “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant and distinctive, it is hard to think of them stilled. A man who seldom rested is laid to rest. And his absence is tangible, like the silence after a mighty roar.”
On their unlikely friendship: “In recent years, we sometimes talked of that intense period like football players remembering a big game. In the process, rivalry melted away. In the end, I got to enjoy one of life’s great gifts: the friendship of John McCain. And I will miss him.”
On McCain’s humanitarianism: “He 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. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots. There was something deep inside him that made him stand up for the little guy — to speak for forgotten people in forgotten places.”
On politics today: “If we are ever tempted to forget who we are, to grow weary of our cause, John’s voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder: We are better than this. America is better than this.”