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Opinion: McCain meets Obama, gets no job offer, which he probably didn’t want anyway

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Well, we know John McCain is unlikely to be named Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff since Rahm Emanuel is already there, talking nice and cutting throats in true Chicago style.

But the meeting of the recent rivals in the Windy City did seem to go well today, at least in public. Which is what really matters in all this symbolic hoo-haa of a new administration’s formation.

This meeting was briefly public, very public, with a trio of U.S. flags to prove it in Obama’s downtown Chicago transition office. As opposed to the president-elect’s more recent secretive meetings with Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson as he seeks under the guidance of John Podesta to rebuild the Clinton administration as part of all the promised Obama change to believe in.

Both former Obama rivals are rumored to be candidates for secretary of State. (We’ve not yet heard what post Madeline Albright could get.)

Asked during a photo op on the 38th floor of a downtown federal skyscraper in the city that invented skyscrapers if he was willing to help make the new Democrat administration a success, McCain replied, ‘Obviously.’

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Obama said the talk was more about a bid to ‘fix up the country’ and thanking McCain for his long ‘outstanding service’ to the nation, which could have been done on the telephone but no TV footage for the 24-hour news cycle out of that. (See video report on the meeting by clicking on the ‘Read more’ line below.)

No aides on either side think the Arizona senator will join an Obama administration.

Even with the enlarged Democratic Senate majority and smiling Harry Reid attempting to herd them, Obama is gonna need some Republican help with his ambitious program there. And who better to work with than the ex-Republican presidential candidate untrusted and abandoned by so many of his own party’s base?

As Karl Rove pointed out in his Wall Street Journal column last week, 4.1 million fewer Republicans bothered to vote for their party’s presidential candidate Nov. 4 than in 2004, 2.7 million fewer veterans (even for a fellow vet) and 4.1 million fewer regular church-goers.

Even in Ohio, without which Republicans do not win the White House, Obama got 32,000 less votes than John Kerry did in 2004. But McCain did worse, getting 360,000 fewer Republican votes there than George W. Bush, thus losing the crucial state by a decisive 206,000 ballots.

Such internal numbers have quietly and quickly created a GOP cadre of believers that the Nov. 4 results were less an Obama win, despite his modest but cumulatively decisive gains in numerous voter sectors, and more a McCain loss among true GOP believers. They switched sides this time or, worse, stayed home, despite the initially explosively successful gesture toward conservatives of picking Sarah Palin as his VP.

Obama may seek McCain’s help on such issues as global warming, where they differ marginally, and with an economic stimulus package, which many Republican legislators are resisting.

However, McCain’s stumbling attempts at influencing fellow GOP congressional members during the first stimulus package flap would not augur well.

In a joint statement afterward the two men said: ‘We had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington.

‘We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy and protecting our nation’s security.’ (To view the video, click on the ‘Read more’ line below.)

(UPDATE: Obama left his transition headquarters in Chicago’s Loop at 5:46 p.m. and arrived at his Hyde Park home at 6:02. Sixteen minutes from downtown to Hyde Park at rush hour. It’s good to be king.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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