Everything about the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) funeral arrangements seems specifically calibrated to rebuke President Donald Trump and the path down which he’s lead the country.
Months before his death on Saturday but after he knew the gravity of his prognosis, McCain made a rare call to former President Barack Obama to ask him to deliver a eulogy at his funeral.
According to a Tuesday CNN report, the two men did not talk frequently and were not personally close. The bruising nature of their contentious 2008 presidential battle had left scars on both of them. However, despite his surprise at being asked, Obama agreed immediately.
McCain also reached out to former President George W. Bush with the same request this spring, who reacted with similar surprise and ready assent.
McCain’s selection was clearly symbolic rather than personal. By selecting men with whom he was not close and by whom he had been defeated in his quest for the White House, he was making a resounding statement about decency, civility and the important of a strong and healthy bipartisan democracy.
His blatant omission of another President from the roster is also notable.
In addition to the eulogists, McCain is using his pallbearers to carry a message.
Along with friends and close colleagues like former Vice President Joe Biden and Warren Beatty, McCain has selected a twice-poisoned Russian dissident with whom he has had a long relationship, according to a Tuesday Politico report.
Vladimir Kara-Murza has suffered organ failure and near death from poisoning twice during a lifetime of teaming up with McCain to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian regime.
Kara-Murza and McCain reportedly grew even closer as Trump repeatedly showed his admiration of Putin.
McCain mentioned his friend in a critical speech soon after Trump assumed the presidency, saying that he “knew that there was no moral equivalence between the United States and Putin’s Russia. I repeat, there is no moral equivalence between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America, the country that Ronald Reagan used to call a shining city on a hill.”
The service will be held on Sunday in Washington’s National Cathedral.