Bush's funeral was the corny, feelgood moment that Washington craves


George Herbert Walker Bush was memorialized on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in the country’s first state funeral of the Trump era, one of those American rituals that, at least for a few hours, is supposed to remind the country that civility is not a dirty word and that partisan combat is not a permanent state of being. The tributes were fulsome, the music stirring. Like the late forty-first President himself, it was a bit corny. People wore funny socks. They made fun of Bush’s legendary hatred of broccoli and politely did not mention some of the more controversial aspects of his long career. This was how state funerals used to be—except for the big guy with the scowl and the blue tie sitting in the front row.

In August, when John McCain died after an awful struggle with brain cancer, President Trump was pointedly not invited to the senator’s memorial, a similarly grand affair at the Cathedral. Instead, he got to nurse his grievances on his golf course and on Twitter, which he took to even while McCain was still receiving last rites commensurate with the war hero he had been. On Wednesday, as another Republican war hero disdained by Trump was being laid to rest, the current President was there in the pew alongside his predecessors. None of the tributes to Bush had the air of a resistant call to arms, like that of the memorable eulogy offered by McCain’s daughter Meghan, and the Bushes have gone out of their way this week to appear gracious toward Trump, notwithstanding his repeated snubs of Jeb “Low Energy” Bush. Then again, all that well-bred graciousness might have been exactly the point, a brilliant act of Waspy revenge. For more than two hours, the visibly uncomfortable forty-fifth President had to listen to Bush extolled in terms that would never be applied to him. “Best instincts,” not “worst impulses.” “Kinder.” “Gentler.” “Courageous.” “Principled.” “Gentlemanly.”