Transcript for Barack H. Obama tribute to John McCain
To John's blood family. This is McCain. Cindy and McCain children. Present mrs. bush. Present Secretary Clinton. As president must Biden. As president ms. Cheney. Vice president gore. And as John would say my friends. We come to celebrate. An extraordinary man. Warner. A statesman. The patriot. Whom bodied so much that is best in America. President Bush and I are among the fortunate few who. Competed against job at the highest levels politics. He made us better presents. Just as he made the senate better. Just as he made it. This country better. So for someone like John askew while he still lives. To stand. And speak of him when he's gone. Is a precious and singular honor. Now. When John called me with a request earlier this year I'll admit. Sadness. And also a certain surprise. But after our conversation ended I realize how well. It captured some of jobs essential qualities. To start where John liked. Being unpredictable. Even roll contrary. Yet no interest in conforming to some pre packaged version of what a senator should be and he didn't want. A memorial that was going to be prepackaged neither. Also assured John's this Spain. For self pity. You've been to hell and back. And yet somehow never lost his energy it words optimism. Organ zest for life. So cancer did not scare. He would maintain that buoyant spirit. To very and too stubborn to Smith's bill. Opinion it is ever. Fiercely devoted to his friends and most of all to his fans. It showed his irreverence. The sense of humor. Little bit of mischievous streak. After all what better way to get a last lap in the make George and I say nice things about him. To a national audience. And most of all. It showed a large mass of spear. And ability to see pass differences. In search of common ground. And them. Fact on the surface Jon and I could not have been more different. Were of different generations. I came from a broken home and never knew my father. John was the Scion of one of America's most distinguished. Military families. I've reputation for keeping cool. Job not so much. We were standard bearers of different American political tradition this. And throughout my presidency John never hesitated to tell me. What he thought all the scoring up. Which by his calculation was about wants of that. But for all our differences. For all of the times we've spark. I never tried to hide and I think John. Came to understand. The longstanding admiration. That I had for him. By his own account John was a rebellious young man. In his case that's understandable what faster way to distinguish yourself one of the sun. And grandson of admirals them to mutiny. Eventually the hope. He concluded that the only way to really make. As mark from the world it's to commit to something bigger than yourself. And for John that man answering. The highest of halts. Serving his country. At a time of war. Others this week. And this morning we've spoken. To the depths of his torment. And the depths of his courage. There on the soles ten or. When day after day. Year after year. Youthful iron. Was tempered in the steel. That brings to mind some thing. That Hemingway broke them. Book that meg and referred to his favorite book. Today is only one day. And all the days that will ever be. But what will happen. In all the other dates that ever car. Can depend. On what. You do today. In captivity John learned. In wins that few of the several well the meaning of those works. Are each moment. Each day. Each choice. A task. And John McCain pass that test. Again. And again. Then again. That's why when John spoke of virtues like service and duty. The good ring hollow. They weren't just words to him. It was a truth that he had let. And for which. He was prepared to dot. And it forced even most. Senate. To consider. What were we doing. For our country. What might. We risk everything for. Are much as been said. This week about what a. Maverick John once. Help in fact jump was a pretty conservative guy. Trust me I was on the receiving end of some of those votes. But he did good. Understand that some principles transcend politics. That some values. Transcend party. He considered a part of his duty. To uphold those principles and uphold. Those balance. John cared about the institutions of self government. Our constitution. Our bill of rights. Ruling. Law. Separation of powers even the arcane rules and procedures of the senate he knew that in a nation that. As big and boisterous and diverse as ours. Those institutions those rules those norms are what bind us together. The give shake. An order tore common life. Even when we disagree especially. When we disagree. John believed in an honest argument. And hearing other views. I understood that if we get in the habit of bending the truth to suit political expediency or. Party orthodoxy. Our democracy will not work. That's why was willing to buck his own party at times. Occasionally work across on campaign finance reform and immigration reform. That's why you champion. A free and independent press. As vital to our democratic debate. And the fact that it earned him. Some good coverage memory that. John understood. As JFK understood as Ronald Reagan understood. That part of what makes our country great. Is that our membership is based not on our blood one. Not on what we looked like what our last name so our. Not based on where or parents or grandparents came from. Or how recently they arrived. But on adherence to a common creek. That all of us are created it. Endowed by our creator. Certain the indelible rights. It's been mentioned today. And we've seen reporters this week of John pushing back against supporters are challenged. My patriotism during. The 2008 campaign. I was grateful but I wasn't surprised. As Joseph Lieberman said it. It was John's and strict. I never saw John treat anyone differently because of their race. Or religion. Or gender. And I'm certainly meant that in those moments that have been referred to during the campaign. He saw himself as defending America's character. Not just months. Reconsidered and the imperative of every citizen who loves this country to treat all people fairly. And finally while John and this agreed on all kinds. A foreign policy. We stood together on America's role. As the one in to spend formation. Believing Mitt with a great power and great blessing us. Comes great responsibility. That burden. Was born most heavily by our men and women in uniform. Service members liar. Doug and Jimmy and Jack who followed their father's footsteps. As well as the families who served. Alongside our troops. But John understood. That our security and our influence was one. Not just by our military might not just by or. Our wealth. Just by our ability to bend others to or will. But from our capacity to inspire others. We are adherents we set of universal values. Like rule of law and human rights. And insistence. On the god given dignity of every human being. Of course. John was the first to tell us that he was not perfect. Like all of us who. Going to public service. He did have an ego. Like all of us. The rose. No doubt some votes he cast. Some compromises instruct. Some decisions he made that he wished he could at bat. It's no secret it's been mentioned that he had a temper. What a flared up it was a force of nature a wonder to behold. Whose job Brandon. Space redneck but. Whose eyes boring all right Maria. Not that I ever experienced it firsthand minded. But to no John wants to know that as quick as his passions might flare. Is just as quick to forgive it. And ask for forgiveness. You knew more of the most. His own flaws. In his mind spots. They knew I'd laugh at himself. And that's self awareness made him home more compelling. We'd an advertiser but every so often. Over the course of my presence there. John would come over to the White House and we just sit and tall in the Oval Office just two of us. We talk about policy ever talk about family. And we're talk about the state of our politics. And our disagreements big. Go away during these private conversations. Those were real. And there were often beat. We enjoyed at the time we shared away from the bright lights. And we left would reach up. And we learn from each up. We never doubted the the other man's sincerity. Or the other man's patriots it's. We're there when all was said and done. We were on the same team. We never doubted we were on the same team. For all of our differences we shared and fidelity to the ideals. For which generations. Of Americans and mark. And fought. And sacrifice. And given their lives. We considered our political battles a privilege. An opportunity to serve as Stewart's. Of those ideals here at home. And to do our best to advance them around the world. We saw this country is a place where anything is possible. And sedition. Citizenship as an obligation. To ensure it forever remains that were. And more than once during his career John. Drew comparisons to Teddy Roosevelt. I'm sure it's been noted that Roosevelt's man in the arena operations seems tailored to job. Most of you know what. Roosevelt speaks of those who strive. Leader. To do great things. Sometimes win and sometimes. Come up short. But always relish a good fight. Contrast to those cold. To muscles. Who know neither victory nor defeat. Is map this spirit we celebrate this week. That's striving. To be better. To do better. To be worth big. Of the great inheritance. And our founders bestowed. So much of our politics. Or public life. Our public discourse. And seems small. And me. And petty. Trafficking and bombast. And insult. And phony controversy us. And manufactured outrage. It's a politics that pretends to be. Brave and tough. But in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than met. He called on us to be better than that. Today is only one day and all the days there will ever be. But what will happen in all. The other dates. There will ever come. Can depend on what. You do today. What better way to honor John McCain's life of service stand. As best we can. Follow his regret. The proved that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for this country is not. Reserved for the few that is open to all of us all. In fact it's demanded of all of us. The citizens of this great republic. That's perhaps so we honor and best. By recognizing that there are some things bigger than party. Or ambition. Or money or fame. Or power. There are some things that are worse. Risking everything for. Principles that are eternal. Troops. They're abiding. It is best. John showed us what that means us. For that. We are all deeply in his death. May god bless. John McCain. God bless this country and serve so.
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