Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

McCain, Obama now 'pen pals'

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I just came back from Capitol Hill, where the dueling senators, Democrat Barack Obama from Illinois and Republican John McCain called a truce.

They playfully said they were "pen pals." Obama said the catchy phrase first and McCain picked up on it.

The official détente came during a joint appearance before a Senate Committee on Rules and Administration hearing on lobbying and ethics reform.

I say official because yesterday both senators said they wanted to put the high publicity episode behind them and move on.

Obama got the ball going in what became a big political story this week.

The freshman senator wrote McCain a letter (and this is from the McCain perspective) that he thought called him a slacker and obstructionist. McCain responded with a sarcasm-laced letter that accused him of "self-interested partisan posturing."

But the exchange raised questions over whether Democrats and Republicans could work together to write laws to prevent more lobbying scandals. This all was triggered after GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty to trying to corrupt public officials and other charges in a still unfolding scandal.

The ball got rolling here when Obama wrote McCain a letter (and this is from the McCain perspective) that he thought called him a slacker and obstructionist.

As I write in today's Sun-Times column, Obama thought the letter was innocuous.

When Obama walked into the hearing room in the Russell Senate Office Building, he offered McCain his hand and put his arm kind of around his shoulder.

It seemed a photo op moment. And it was. I just saw it replayed on CNN.

Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said, "the witnesses will behave themselves and restrain themselves."
McCain, when it was his turn to testify, was gracious. He said "Sen. Obama and I are moving on" and "I value his input."

When it was Obama's turn, he said he was "pleased to be sharing this panel with my pen pal, John McCain."

For more on what happened in the hearing, read me in Thursday's Chicago Sun-Times.

3 Comments

MoDowd's take on this today: "Although Mr. McCain tried to cast his "I'm the reformer — you back off, new guy" letter as "straight talk" after an Obama dis, it was snide and bitchy, more like an angry missive of a spurned lover to an ex-boyfriend than a note from a respected senior senator to a respected junior one." http://select.nytimes.com/2006/02/08/opinion/08dowd.html

This just in:

House Republicans put Tom DeLay on key committees: Appropriations and overseeing the Justice Dept. (the one investigating him).

Yeah they're serious about "bipartisan" reform.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/2/8/20537/33652

More evidence of the "sincerity" of McCain's desire for reform:

McCain does an about face on public financing of elections

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/9/123238/9522

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Admin published on February 8, 2006 4:20 PM.

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