The Bush family reportedly is making it clear they do not want the services being held to honor the life of former President George H.W. Bush to become a platform to bash President Donald Trump.
Many took note of the not-so-veiled anti-Trump rhetoric at the memorial service at National Cathedral for the late Arizona Sen. John McCain in September.
The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, while not mentioning the uninvited Trump by name, took some obvious swipes at the 45th president.
“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” McCain said with great emotion.
“The America of John McCain had no need to be made great again, because America was always great,” she later added in a derisive tone in a clear reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. The biting line drew strong applause from those on hand.
Similarly, former President Barack Obama — who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential election — did not name Trump during his comments at the service, but attacked those who traffic in “bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” and “a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born of fear.”
“John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that,” Obama said.
Unlike John McCain, the late President Bush made clear he wanted Trump at his funeral, despite the past tensions between the 45th president and the Bushes.
The Washington Post reported the Bush family contacted the White House this past summer to say Trump would be welcome at the funeral and made clear the focus will be on honoring the 41st president’s life and service rather than a platform to air disagreements.
“This will be about the celebration of the noble public service that George H.W. Bush gave. It’s not going to be about anybody else. I don’t think it’s going to be about Trump,” a former Bush 41 staff member told Politico.
Trump is to be seated in the front row at the National Cathedral on Wednesday next to former presidents George W. Bush, Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
In addition to George W. Bush, the other eulogists slated to speak at the service include former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who also eulogized Bush’s predecessor Ronald Reagan, former Wyoming Republican senator and friend Alan Simpson, and presidential historian Jon Meacham.
“If you have a sensitivity for human feelings, you just don’t get into that,” Simpson told The Post regarding trying to take political shots. “It’s not what a funeral is for.”
Meacham — author of the 2015 book “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” and a frequent MSNBC guest — would appear the most likely of the four speakers to take at least some veiled swipes at Trump.
In a Sunday Op-Ed for The New York Times, Meacham wrote, “The nation mourns (George H.W. Bush) not least because we no longer have a president who knows that the story of the nation is not all about him.
“In the last years of his life, President Bush was asked how he’d like to be remembered. He didn’t pause — and he avoided, as ever, the first-person pronoun, what his mother used to call the ‘Great I Am’ — and replied: ‘That we put the country first.’ That such words seem so quaint is one of the many reasons we already miss him as much as we do.”
Trump appears to have returned the gesture of respect the Bushes have extended to him by declaring Wednesday a national day of mourning for the late president and directed that all executive departments and agencies be closed.
The chief executive has also ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff for 30 days, starting from the date of Bush’s death.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump paid their respects to George H.W. Bush Monday night at the Capitol Rotunda, where the late president lies in state until Wednesday.
Watch: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump salute former President George H.W. Bush’s casket at Capitol Rotunda.
— KESQ News Channel 3 (@KESQ) December 4, 2018
The first couple paused in front of the casket, and Trump saluted the former commander-in-chief, while the first lady placed her hand over her heart.
Melania Trump attended former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral in June and brought former White House staff members who served the 41st president and his wife with her.
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