On Saturday, at the National Cathedral, public officials from across the political spectrum — and recent decades of American politics — gathered to honor the late U.S. Senator John McCain, who’d represented Arizona as a Republican in Congress for decades and died recently from brain cancer. Among those in attendance were the Obamas and Bushes, and cameras captured a lighthearted moment shared by the two presidential families that many quickly took to talking about.
The interaction in question is itself simple — but the 2018 internet lets us scrutinize things. During former Senator Joe Lieberman’s tribute to McCain, Laura Bush had her husband George W. pass what seems to have been a piece of candy to Michelle Obama, who was sitting on the other side of him next to her own husband, Barack.
The moment captivated segments of the weekend internet conversation, and it’s a convenient, even if simple gesture that represents to some the bipartisanship that McCain strove for, even in death.
George W. Bush sneaking a piece of candy to Michelle Obama is warming my heart . pic.twitter.com/pAtDdIcSeB
— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) September 1, 2018
This is such a great little moment. pic.twitter.com/7LZgNcHhyt
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 1, 2018
— Janell8ItAll (@LiveLoveLifeDo) September 1, 2018
The camera just cut away from Joe Lieberman’s joke about John McCain to Laura Bush just passing a hard church candy to Michelle Obama thru George Bush and it might be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. #NationalCathedral
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 1, 2018
He asked both Barack Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies in his honor — and the two men aren’t exactly in ideological alignment, to say the least.
Journalist Brenna Williams quipped:
‘I’d like to think that moments like this between W. Bush and Michelle Obama are what McCain was hoping for.’
I’d like to think that moments like this between W. Bush and Michelle Obama are what McCain was hoping for. pic.twitter.com/vYE3A46Ity
— Brenna Williams (@brennawilliams) September 1, 2018
George W. Bush and Michelle Obama have shared what turned out to be viral moments in the past. For instance, in a widely circulated photo, the two can be seen sharing a hug at the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and they’ve publicly interacted at a whole host of other events as well.
Bush has commented:
‘She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.’
Journalist Vanessa Rumbles said after the duo’s latest high profile interactions:
‘The unlikely, close friendship between Michelle Obama and George W. Bush is one of my favorite political joys that makes me smile. I’ve seen it before, and we see it at today’s service.’
In all seriousness, the bipartisan spirit that many took the moment as representing was long important to McCain. He voted down the Republican health care package presented last year not out of a particular fondness for ObamaCare, which it was meant to replace, but because he was fed up with the hyper-partisan GOP ramming through legislation.
He also long maintained an opposition to President Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric, who a number of those who have honored McCain in days following his death have taken shots at. Thursday in Arizona, for instance, former Vice President Joe Biden said that “where [McCain would] part company with you is if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect — knowing that this project is bigger than yourself.”
In life, McCain often lambasted President Trump’s rhetoric, including that involving Russian President Vladimir Putin and other totalitarian leaders around the world.
Trump wasn’t at any of McCain’s memorials — he wasn’t invited. What was there, though — at least to some — was the spirit of coming together that so contrasts with the way Donald Trump prefers to operate.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot