Lessons Filipino politicians can learn from Joe Biden’s eulogy for old friend and political foe John McCain

September 7, 2018 - 5:05 PM
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Joe Biden had a heartfelt eulogy for John McCain, a close friend from an opposing political party. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Former United States Vice President Joe Biden is getting praises for his heartfelt eulogy for late friend and political rival John McCain.

While politics in the Philippines has been given an ugly face thanks to all the vendettas, daily mudslinging and turncoatism, local politicians could learn a thing or two from about what having a heart from Biden’s speech.

Lesson #1: Friendships can be forged across party lines

The 75-year old Biden has been a member of the Democratic Party for his entire political career while McCain has been a Republican since he was elected as representative of Arizona in 1982. McCain went on to be the Grand Old Party’s most outspoken and respected figures, becoming its nominee in the 2008 presidential race.

The two became friends in the 1970s when McCain was the US Navy liaison to the Senate and Biden was a young Senator representing Delaware. The friendship remained even when McCain joined the Republican party.

“My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain,” said Biden while introducing himself for the eulogy at his late friend’s wake.

Biden recalled the discussions he had with McCain when they were both in the Senate, which he also described as “the proudest years of his life” and shared how colleagues would express their concern about the two sitting together during debates.

Lesson #2: Everyone is human

Biden during the speech recalled having gotten close to McCain’s family and McCain being close to his. He addressed McCain’s family in attendance and sent gave his heartfelt regards.

“My heart goes out to you. And I know right now, the pain you all are feeling is so sharp and so hollowing. And John’s absence is all consuming, for all of you right now,” said an emotional Biden.

He also discussed how McCain had gotten close to his children Beau and Hunter. Beau, who passed away in 2015, also battled brain cancer, the same disease that took McCain’s life.

Lesson #3: Give credit where credit is due

Biden praised the patriotism and commitment of McCain, who was criticized for his support for US military intervention and conservative stance on sex education by Biden’s Democratic Party during his life.

“John was a hero, his character, courage, honor, integrity. I think it is understated when they say optimism. That’s what made John special,” said Biden in praise of McCain.

“John knew ordinary Americans understood each of us has a duty to defend, integrity, dignity and birthright of every child. He carried it,” he added.

Lesson #4: No grudges after elections

In the Philippines, election season has always been a bloody affair, both literally and figuratively. Biden’s collision course with his friend McCain in the 2008 US presidential race however did not dent their friendship.

Biden became vice president of the United States when running mate Barack Obama beat McCain by a landslide 365-173 in the electoral vote.

McCain has been praised for his cordial relationship with Obama, who also gave a eulogy at the former’s wake. Footage of McCain defending Obama during their presidential race in 2008 recently circulated.

“To paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again,” said Biden about his friend to close his speech.