Unity was a significant theme at the Washington DC memorial for the late Senator John McCain, who passed away on August 25th after a year-long battle with aggressive brain cancer. Former president Barack Obama emphasized in his moving eulogy the conservative senator's view that "Some values transcend party" and former senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent, recounted tales from his many years of work and friendship with McCain.
McCain had chosen the speakers at his funeral to emphasize a clear theme: Certain values-and friendships-must transcend partisan differences, and divisive political rancor was, by his estimation, un-American.
Aside from the very public rhetoric of McCain's eulogizers, there was one example of aisle-crossing friendship that captured-and delighted-the public's attention. As Lieberman was speaking, for a moment the camera panned away to the gathered mourners, revealing a charming moment between former president George W. Bush and former First Lady Michelle Obama. In the clip, which quickly went viral, Bush offers Obama something from former First Lady Laura Bush (initially reported to be a piece of candy, but Bush spokesman Freddy Ford later confirmed that it was, in fact, a cough drop) for which she quietly thanked him.
WATCH: Bipartisanship: Laura Bush, via President Bush, hands a piece of candy to Michelle Obama during the memorial service for John McCain. pic.twitter.com/PhKPYCOiUz
- MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 1, 2018
It was a sweet, simple moment that seemed to typify the mood of the entire event, but it's not the first time that this unexpected duo have put their friendly feelings on display. The former First Lady and the 43rd President have a heart-warming history of chumminess.
The pair are frequently seated next to one another at events, including the 2015 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, where the two were seen talking to another and laughing on stage.
“She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like,” Bush told People of their unconventional friendship, adding, “I needle her a little bit and around her, I’m fairly lighthearted. [The Obamas] are around serious people all the time and we just took to each other.”
Likewise, at the interfaith memorial service for the victims of the Dallas police shooting Bush greeted Obama with a kiss on the cheek and they swung their joined hands in time with the music. Their moment of camaraderie came at a moment of high political tension, yet the duo's ability to look past party lines and see the humanity behind the politics served as an inspiration to many.
Later that year they would connect once again at opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture where Obama greeted Bush with an immense hug and Bush leaned his head into her like the closest of friends.
Though they differ on many political issues, there are also a number of causes that they're united on. Bush has spent a great deal of time since his exit from the White House working to provide for the needs of veterans with wellness and employment programs though the George W. Bush Presidential Center-a program not dissimilar to that of the Joining Forces initiative that Obama championed as First Lady. Likewise, both George W. and Laura Bush have been longtime supporters of children's education and leadership programs, as has Obama, who made education and empowerment one of her chief causes both during and after her husband's term in office.
As you start this new school year, I want you to strive to work harder than ever before, challenge yourself to reach new heights, and seek opportunities that will help you grow. I believe in you! #BetterMakeRoomhttps://t.co/vMPZ3qBoP5
- Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) August 28, 2018
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