Obama on the Man He Defeated
We didn't advertise it, but every so often over the course of my presidency, John would come over to the White House and we'd just sit and talk in the Oval Office, just the two of us. We would talk about policy, and we'd talk about family and we'd talk about the state of our politics. And our disagreements didn't go away during these private conversations -- those were real and they were often deep. But we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights.
And we laughed with each other, and we learned from each other. And we never doubted the other man's sincerity or the other man's patriotism, or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team. We never doubted we were on the same team. For all of our differences, we shared a fidelity to the ideals for which generations of Americans have marched and fought and sacrificed and given their lives. We considered our political battles a privilege, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those ideals at home and do our best to advance them around the world.
We saw this country as a place where anything is possible. And citizenship as an obligation to ensure it forever remains that way. More than once during his career John drew comparisons to Teddy Roosevelt. I am sure it has been noted that Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" seems tailored to John. Most of you know it, Roosevelt speaks of those who strive, who dare to do great things, who sometimes win and sometimes come up short but always relish a good fight. A contrast to those cold, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Isn't that the spirit we celebrate this week? That striving to be better, to do better, to be worthy of the great inheritance that our founders bestowed.
So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that. Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that will ever come can depend on what you do today. What better way to honor John McCain's life of service than as best we can follow his example to this country. To prove that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for this country is not reserved for the few, it is open to all of us, and in fact it is demanded of all of us as citizens of this great republic.