UPDATED with video:Jon Meacham, President George H.W. Bush’s biographer and a frequent MSNBC contributor, spoke at length about 41 at the state funeral today, but he seemed at times to be speaking to President Donald Trump, who sat in the front pew with three former Dem presidents.
Noting George H.W. Bush had “big, strong hands,” Meacham called him America’s last great soldier statesman, a 20th century founding father” in the tradition of Washington, Adams, the Roosevelts, Truman and Eisenhower, “Men who believe in causes larger than themselves.”
He described the senior Bush, who died Friday, as a man who “stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship. He stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination. And, under his watch, the wall fell in Berlin, a dictator’s aggression did not stand, and doors across America opened to those with disabilities.
“His life code was: tell the truth, don’t blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course,” Meacham added, describing that as “the most American of creeds.”
“Abraham Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature’ and George H.W. Bush’s ‘thousand points of light’ are companion verses in America’s national hymn,” Meacham said very pointedly, what with Trump being so fond of comparing himself to Lincoln, and Trump having famously mocked 41’s ‘thousand points of light’ call to Americans.
“Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses but our best instincts,” Meacham said, making it maybe a little tougher for Trump to connect the dots between him and the Great Emancipator going forward.
After the funeral, MSNBC’s Willie Geist reported that Meacham had written the eulogy before H.W. died and actually read it to the ailing president, who responded, “That’s a lot about me, Jon”:
With the memorial service finished, @JMeacham has given me permission to report that he had the chance to read that beautiful eulogy to President Bush before his death.
After hearing his own eulogy, President Bush said, characteristically: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.” #Bush41
— Willie Geist (@WillieGeist) December 5, 2018