On Wednesday night, late night host Stephen Colbert suggested George H.W. Bush's funeral shaded Trump in a totally indirect way. To be clear, none of the Bush family made an acknowledgement, direct or otherwise, about the current administration at any point during the day. Instead, they focused on celebrating the life and legacy of their beloved patriarch. But there was one point in the service that Colbert suggested made Trump look like a "bad president": the moment where a historian celebrated all of the good presidential qualities that Bush espoused.
First, Colbert featured an excerpt in which historian Jon Meacham, one of the four men tapped to eulogize 41, said, “His life code, as he said, was, ‘Tell the truth. Don't blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.’”
Then, Colbert featured a snippet in which CNN's Gloria Borger said to Anderson Cooper of the Meacham quote, "It sounds anti-Trump, but it isn't necessarily.”
At that point, Colbert finally offered his own two cents. “Nah, kinda is," he said. “As soon as you start praising someone’s honesty, you’re automatically throwing shade at Donald Trump. I mean, Obama made Trump seem like a bad president just by sitting next to him.”
Colbert wasn't the only person who paid close attention to POTUS and FLOTUS' effect on the funeral services.
The body language and welcome greetings between the Trumps and the other former presidential couples was closely scrutinized, with many publications noting that Hillary Clinton didn't even turn her head toward Trump when he said down in her pew.
The frosty round of greetings between the Obamas and the Trumps was also well noted, especially in direct contrast to how intimate and friendly George W. Bush's greeting to Michelle Obama was. The differences between Trump and the other presidents only grew more stark from there: Of the four former presidents who sat in the front pew (Trump, Obama, Carter, and Clinton), Trump was the only one who didn't sing the opening hymn or read the Apostles' Creed.
Meacham's eulogy of Bush wasn't the only one that inspired comparisons to Trump. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also eulogized Bush in a way that drew a possible connection to POTUS. The Washington Post specifically pointed out the moment where Mulroney talked about leadership.
He said, "There’s a word for this. It’s called ‘leadership'... And let me tell you that when George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader — one who was distinguished, resolute, and brave.”
Regardless of whether any of this actually was intended to be a jab at Trump or not, the day was filled with a direct and concerted effort to focus on the real purpose of the services: to honor the 41st president. Bush's final eulogy of the day certainly met that goal. He said of his father, "Through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have."
Then he choked back a sob, illustrating his heartbreak in the most authentic and profound way. And for at least that brief moment, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone could have been thinking of Trump.