Meghan McCain paid tribute to her father in an emotional speech at the Washington Cathedral Saturday that served as a rare display of partisan unity in a town marked by divisions. Shortly after she started speaking, John McCain’s daughter made a clear reference to the notable absence in the room — President Donald Trump. As everyone knows by now, McCain did not want Trump to attend his funeral and his daughter made clear why on Saturday, sending some not-so-subtle digs at the president during her eulogy.
“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 as she choked back tears. “He was a great fire who burned bright.”
In the most pointed message toward Trump, Meghan McCain said that “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.” That sparked a round of applause through the Cathedral that lasted several seconds. Many were quick to point out how rare that is for a solemn memorial service. “Make no mistake: the applause ringing out at the Cathedral … is not standard,” wrote The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser. “Never heard applause at a funeral here before.”
Meghan McCain focused much of her speech on the softer side of John McCain. “The best of John McCain, the greatest of his titles and the most important of his roles, was as a father,” she said. “Imagine the distinguished statesman who counseled presidents and the powerful singing with his little girl.”
A day earlier, social media lit up with people saying that it sure looked like Meghan McCain gave Vice President Mike Pence some serious side eye as he spoke at her father’s memorial ceremony Friday. “I feel like Meghan McCain is trying to set Pence on fire with her mind,” wrote one Twitter user.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus