Obama Continues Republican Outreach
Barack Obama continues his outreach to the center-right, with dinners on his last night as a private citizen honoring John McCain and Colin Powell. Andrew Malcolm for LAT, under the clever headline “Will-be President Obama lauds would-be president McCain”:
[T]onight at a special D.C. dinner, on the eve of becoming the nation’s 44th president at Tuesday’s inauguration, ex-community organizer, ex-state senator, ex-U.S. senator, present president-elect Barack Obama praised his ex-rival as “an American hero.” He referred to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, ex-attack pilot and former POW, who spent nearly three times as long in a Vietnamese prison cell as the Democratic winner spent on the presidential campaign trail.
“I could stand here,” Obama said at one of three dinners he attended tonight in Washington, “and recite the long list of John’s bipartisan accomplishments. Campaign finance reform. Immigration. The Patients’ Bill of Rights. All those times he has crossed the aisle and risked the ire of his party for the good of his country. “And yet, what makes John such a rare and courageous public servant is not the accomplishments themselves, but the true motivation behind them. “It has not been a quest for fame or vanity that has driven this man. It has not been the need to compromise for politics’ sake that has shaped his distinguished career. It is rather a pure and deeply felt love of his country that comes from the painful knowledge of what life is like without it.”
The president-elect good-naturedly said that by agreement of the Democratic and Republican parties the vanquished Republican presidential nominee would have 30 seconds of rebuttal time.
These gestures are both decent and shrewd, contributing to the good will with which he’ll take office in a few short hours. Most incoming presidents, including the soon-to-be-outgoing one, are similarly magnanimous in victory. Few are able to sustain that spirit once the battle begins. Here’s hoping Obama will be among them.