Obama’s statement on George McGovern’s death seems awfully anodyne, begrudging, and brief:
George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved. He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe. When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family.
There’s no mention of the fact that McGovern was the presidential candidate of Obama’s party. That he led the fight against the Vietnam War. There’s just some oblique reference to the life of a man whose presidential campaign, for all its flaws, was one of the most transformative in Democratic Party history and which helped set the stage for the campaign and presidency of none other than Barack Obama.
Now compare what Obama had to say when Neil Armstrong died.
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Neil Armstrong.
Neil was among the greatest of American heroes–not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable–that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.
Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown–including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure–sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.
Okay, that’s Neil Armstrong, about whom people in this country have strangely strong and sentimental feelings. But listen to what Obama had to say when Arlen Specter died.
Arlen Specter was always a fighter. From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others. When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, “I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I’m going to beat this, too.” Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family.
I mean: Arlen Fucking Specter!
I get it: McGovern was a loser, and Obama’s heading into the final stretch of a close campaign; the last thing he needs is any reminder of McGovern’s defeat. But for God’s sake…Arlen Fucking Specter!
H/t Jordan Adam Banks for McGovern and Specter statements.