June 15, 2008


McCain and Clinton's unlikely friendship: She fired at Obama. He fired at Obama. But with each other, they mostly held their fire. What gives? (DON FREDERICK AND ANDREW MALCOLM, June 15, 2008, TOP OF THE TICKET: LA Times)

Back in April, after she'd been shaking hands at a Toledo factory gate but before flying to Texas, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told the press: "Sen. McCain brings a lifetime of experience to the campaign. I bring a lifetime of experience. And Sen. Obama brings a speech he gave in 2002."

A pretty good zinger that got Clinton into the day's news flow while her plane was heading to a rally in Austin.

But why would the Democratic candidate mention the Republican at all, let alone in a positive way?

Then, in the primaries' final weeks, as the inevitable delegate math squeezed Clinton, she attacked Barack Obama. And John McCain, already running for the general election, attacked Obama. And Obama fired back at the Republican.

But neither Clinton nor McCain fired at each other.

Then, after the last night of primary ballot-counting, Clinton and Obama spoke briefly about each other.

McCain uttered one sentence about Obama. Then the Arizona Republican said this: "Sen. Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.

"As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend." [...]

So The Ticket called people who know both McCain and Clinton. It's true, they confirmed, there is a special friendship. It apparently started in January 2001, when Clinton became the first former first lady elected to public office and walked into the U.S. Senate.

It has always been a gentlemen's club, if not always populated by gentlemen. McCain made a point of heartily welcoming the newcomer and showing her around. "They really hit it off," said one friend.

Both also have at times been at odds with their own parties. They found they could work together across the aisle as committee members and enjoyed each other's company on fact-finding trips around the world. In Estonia, according to one famous tale, Clinton challenged McCain to a vodka shot-drinking contest, which he readily accepted.

Later, McCain remarked to friends "she was one of the guys," a high compliment among guys.

Whereas Senator Obama is a prototype leader of the female party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2008 9:02 AM

That is actually a pretty good line about Obama and the 2002 speech; however, she had a lifetime of experience courtsey of her spouse.

Posted by: pchuck at June 15, 2008 10:15 AM

A nice illustration of why we should all hate the Senate. Politicians are a special interest group like any other and we've got to expect them to look out for themselves. If we don't like it, we can vote them out, after all. But the Senate is really a special case of politicians believing themselves the elite v. the voting proles. It is a special measure of just what a pompous ass John Kerry is that no other senators like him.

Having said that, though, being nice to Hillary and, in particular, to Hillary's middle-aged women supporters is just good politics.

Posted by: Ibid at June 15, 2008 12:38 PM

Guts and tenacity are always respected; appealing to teacher never. Such is the lesson of the school yard. She showed the inner iron core, and Sen. Obama hasn't yet. I may not like her positions, but I respect her fighting qualities; a worthy opponent to cross blades with.

Posted by: Mikey at June 15, 2008 2:02 PM