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#1246994 --- 01/15/11 10:43 PM A Thaw Between Obama and McCain?
citydog Offline
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Registered: 08/29/10
Posts: 383
Loc: Ontario County
Note: Dan Balz has given a heads up on an op-ed piece by John McCain, which will appear in tomorrow's Washington Post. I look forward to reading what could be an important moment in out political discourse.

After Tucson, a thaw between Obama and McCain?
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 15, 2011


Could the long-icy relationship between President Obama and his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), be thawing?

McCain took a significant step toward reconciling with the president in a graceful op-ed in Sunday's [tomorrow's] Washington Post. If that article marks a genuine fresh beginning, it would be one positive thing to come out of the horrific shooting spree in Tucson eight days ago.

McCain and Obama will never be comrades in arms. They have too much history, too much mutual ill will and too many philosophical differences for that. In the two years since McCain went down to defeat against Obama, the tension between the them has been evident in almost every public setting in which they've appeared.

But in praising the president's speech at Wednesday's memorial service in Tucson, McCain has reached out to Obama with an open hand. Not since his gracious concession speech on the night of the election has McCain spoken so generously of his rival. Obama should not let the opportunity pass to reach out to McCain in return.

McCain said much more than that the president gave, as he put it, "a terrific speech" on Wednesday. He offered a character reference for a politician whom many conservatives in McCain's party see as un-American. "I disagree with many of the president's policies," he wrote, "but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals."

This is not the first time he has said something like that about the president. In the closing weeks of the 2008 campaign, the Republican nominee came to Obama's defense, rebuking some of those who had spoken out most stridently at his rallies, including people who claimed Obama was un-American or who said he was a Muslim.

That moment proved fleeting. McCain had concluded early on that Obama's talk of bipartisanship and unity was longer on words than on deeds. He privately questioned whether Obama had the courage to challenge members of his own party, as he would need to do to bring about real bipartisanship - and as McCain had done so often with his fellow Republicans. McCain often let his lack of respect for Obama show through on the campaign trail.

He also had other grievances about Obama and his allies, most notably over something said by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement and someone McCain long had regarded with respect.

As the McCain rallies grew more raucous, Lewis suggested that the Republican nominee was condoning the most vitriolic attacks against Obama and that doing so could create an atmosphere conducive to violence - much as George Wallace's behavior did during the civil rights era. McCain was as deeply hurt by that as anything said of him in public life, his advisers said at the time.

During the campaign, Obama registered McCain's disrespect and returned it in kind. For two years, their mutual resentment has been at the surface of their relationship, to the detriment of the country. Both have seemed more interested in scoring points against each other than in putting the 2008 campaign behind them.

When the president convened his health care summit last winter, McCain jabbed at Obama for having failed to live up to his promise to conduct health care negotiations on C-SPAN.

Obama interjected: "We're not campaigning anymore. The election is over."

"I'm reminded of that every day," McCain responded.

It's possible that Tucson will let the two leaders turn the page. The McCain who comes through in the Post op-ed is the McCain many have known for a long time. Only the puckish sense of humor is absent, appropriately so given the article's subject matter.

The Arizona senator has moved to the right, along with his party, in the past four years. That makes true partnership with the president more difficult, given Obama's policies and leanings and the posture of the Democratic base. But both men have often preferred to look for ways to operate closer to the political center. Whether it is on immigration, energy or Afghanistan, the possibilities for greater cooperation between them would seem to exist, if the will is there to find some common ground.

No less obvious in McCain's article is his strong defense of Sarah Palin, his vice presidential running mate. Palin drew instant criticism after the shootings for a map she had published that included crosshairs on the districts of 20 members of Congress whom she had singled out for defeat. She was accused of contributing to a climate that led to the Tucson massacre, though there was no evidence to support such a connection.

When she finally spoke in her defense last Wednesday, she drew more criticism for saying that those who blamed the shootings on conservative rhetoric - or anything she had done - had committed a "blood libel," heavily freighted words.

McCain noted that people should not expect political leaders to be indifferent to unfair assaults on their character. "Imagine how it must feel," he wrote, "to have watched one week ago the incomprehensible massacre of innocents committed by someone who had lost some essential part of his humanity, to have shared in the heartache for its victims and in the admiration for those who acted heroically to save the lives of others - and to have heard in the coverage of that tragedy voices accusing you of complicity in it."

Obama said the same thing, using different words, in Tucson. "Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let's use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together," he said.

Obama and McCain have spoken as leaders in the aftermath of Tucson in an attempt to elevate the public dialogue. Perhaps they can begin to speak to each other in the way they have asked everyone to do.
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#1247111 --- 01/16/11 02:38 PM Re: A Thaw Between Obama and McCain? [Re: citydog]
citydog Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/10
Posts: 383
Loc: Ontario County
To the displeasure of some, I suppose, Sen. McCain considers President Obama to be a patriot. Following is the full text of Sen. McCain's op-ed piece referenced above.

After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the golden rule
By John McCain
Sunday, January 16, 2011


President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night. He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday's senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America. He encouraged every American who participates in our political debates - whether we are on the left or right or in the media - to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves.

The president appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man's inhumanity. He asked us all to conduct ourselves in those debates in a manner that would not disillusion an innocent child's hopeful patriotism. I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. We should respect the sincerity of the convictions that enliven our debates but also the mutual purpose that we and all preceding generations of Americans serve: a better country; stronger, more prosperous and just than the one we inherited.

We Americans have different opinions on how best to serve that noble purpose. We need not pretend otherwise or be timid in our advocacy of the means we believe will achieve it. But we should be mindful as we argue about our differences that so much more unites than divides us. We should also note that our differences, when compared with those in many, if not most, other countries, are smaller than we sometimes imagine them to be.

I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them.

Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so. It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities. But I do not think it is beyond our ability and virtue to refrain from substituting character assassination for spirited and respectful debate.

Public life has many more privileges than hardships. First among them is the satisfying purpose it gives our lives to make a contribution to the progress of a nation that was conceived to defend the rights and dignity of human beings. It can be a bruising business at times, but in the end its rewards are greater than the injuries sustained to earn them.

That doesn't mean, however, that those injuries are always easy to slough off and bear with perfect equanimity. Political leaders are not and cannot reasonably be expected to be indifferent to the cruelest calumnies aimed at their character. Imagine how it must feel to have watched one week ago the incomprehensible massacre of innocents committed by someone who had lost some essential part of his humanity, to have shared in the heartache for its victims and in the admiration for those who acted heroically to save the lives of others - and to have heard in the coverage of that tragedy voices accusing you of complicity in it.

It does not ask too much of human nature to have the empathy to understand how wrong an injury that is or appreciate how strong a need someone would feel to defend him or herself against such a slur. Even to perceive it in the context of its supposed political effect and not as the claim of the human heart to the dignity we are enjoined by God and our founding ideals to respect in one another is unworthy of us, and our understanding of America's meaning.

There are too many occasions when we lack that empathy and mutual respect on all sides of our politics, and in the media. But it is not beyond us to do better; to behave more modestly and courteously and respectfully toward one another; to make progress toward the ideal that beckons all humanity: to treat one another as we would wish to be treated.

We are Americans and fellow human beings, and that shared distinction is so much more important than the disputes that invigorate our noisy, rough-and-tumble political culture. That is what I heard the president say on Wednesday evening. I commend and thank him for it.
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#1247126 --- 01/16/11 03:39 PM Re: A Thaw Between Obama and McCain? [Re: citydog]
past tense Offline
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Registered: 03/05/03
Posts: 29711
Loc: Houston, TX
Great op-ed. Must have really chaffed McCain to write it (or put his name on it, however it works for him). He REALLY hates the President, so I give him a lot of credit for putting that aside and clarifying the message for other folks who hate the President so much that they refuse to acknowledge what a good speech he gave.
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#1247132 --- 01/16/11 03:49 PM Re: A Thaw Between Obama and McCain? [Re: past tense]
Animal Lover Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/13/06
Posts: 1339
Loc: NY
I agree it's a nice start but I think he is trying to save face. He made a fool of himself over the DADT situation in recent months. Even some of his colleagues (and supposed friends) were laughing at him. IMO he is unstable and not to be trusted. In a month or so, when things don't go his way, he will be right back at it, with his little temper tantrums and insults.

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#1247310 --- 01/17/11 02:09 AM Re: A Thaw Between Obama and McCain? [Re: Animal Lover]
Harleybobb Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/21/10
Posts: 4061
Loc: Walloon Freedom Fighter
Originally Posted By: Animal Lover
I agree it's a nice start but I think he is trying to save face. He made a fool of himself over the DADT situation in recent months. Even some of his colleagues (and supposed friends) were laughing at him. IMO he is unstable and not to be trusted. In a month or so, when things don't go his way, he will be right back at it, with his little temper tantrums and insults.

ahahahahaha...sounds a little like you!
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