Cameras capture the moment George W. Bush taps Barack Obama's butt after John McCain funeral speech
Last weekend, Vietnam war hero and longtime U.S. Senator John McCain was laid to rest. Known for his feisty, maverick spirit, he made many friends - and enemies - on both sides of the political aisle. But at the end of the day, decent human beings respected him, even if they disagreed with him. McCain was a fighter to the end, from his horrific experience as a prisoner of war to his heartbreaking battle with brain cancer. He died at age 81, a day after stopping treatment.
McCain's memorial service was remarkable for its bipartisanship. Respectable figures from both parties were invited to attend, and two of his biggest political rivals were invited to give eulogies: President George W. Bush, who fought McCain for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 (and won), and President Barack Obama, who fought McCain for the U.S. presidency in 2008 (and won). As they say, time heals all wounds.
"In the end, I got to enjoy one of life's great gifts, the friendship of John McCain. And I'll miss it," said President Bush. "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."
"We never doubted we were on the same team," said President Obama, "So much of our politics, the public life, the public discourse, seems small, and mean, and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult, phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but is instead born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that, to be better than that."
But it wasn't all eloquent quotes praising basic decency; some lighter moments went viral. President Bush was seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama, and viewers spotted a sweet interaction. Bush grabbed candy from his wife's purse - because of course she had candy - she's a grandmother! But rather than hog all the candy for himself, like some obese, greedy, narcissistic public figures might do, he generously handed some to Michelle. First Lady Obama accepted and mouthed, "Thank you." Who knew these two had such good rapport?
The wholesome gesture quickly went viral on social media; a gesture of unity that proved Americans can always overcome our differences. (At least, if sweet, sweet candy is involved.)
However, it wasn't the only 'humanizing' moment captured on camera. After President Bush finished his speech, he slapped President Obama on the butt as he made his way to the podium - a sportsmanlike "go get'em!" from No. 43 to No. 44. Twitter users loved the down-to-earth gesture.
If Senator John McCain was watching his own memorial service from the other side, he was probably charmed by these little moments, as well as the big ones. Despite all the lies from conmen who swindle their way into public office, and the lazy vitriol from deplorable people on Twitter, nothing can trump civility.