OBAMA, MCCAIN TO MEET IN CHICAGO…. ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported this morning that John McCain, accompanied by Lindsey Graham, will travel to the President-elect’s transition headquarters in Chicago on Monday.
Tapper added that there’s “no indication Obama intends to offer McCain a position in his Cabinet, or that McCain would accept.”
I suppose, given the circumstances, cabinet speculation is inevitable. One of the TNR blogs, noting McCain’s trip to Chicago, asked, “Bombshell cabinet appointment in the making? Maybe.”
I really doubt it. I know how much Obama appreciates the whole “Team of Rivals” dynamic, and I’m confident that Obama values magnanimity in victory, but I strongly suspect Monday’s get-together is about building bridges, not exploring cabinet possibilities.
Where, pray tell, would Obama put him? Defense Secretary? Not in a million years — they fundamentally disagree about the role of the military in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Department of Veterans Affairs? It’s unlikely given that McCain’s record on veterans’ issues is actually really awful, including his inexplicable opposition to a bipartisan expansion of the GI Bill.
I guess one could make a case that McCain might consider a post at the Department of Homeland Security, but the truth is, Bush created and staffed the entire agency. Putting another conservative Republican in charge seems like a very bad idea.
So, if it’s not about the cabinet, what’s the point of the meeting? I think Jonathan Martin is on the right track:
It’s … in both their interests to be seen letting the past be but the past. For Obama, the meeting ideally underscores his post-partisan mantra and shows to some still-skeptical voters that he really is committed to working with Republicans for the good of the country. For McCain, it’s an important step in his rehabilitation effort. Americans, as the Arizonan himself often says, don’t like sore losers. What’s more, McCain wants to continue to be a player in the capital. With Democrats in charge of the White House and Senate, he needs such public displays of hatchet-burying to win back his pre-presidential role as congressional dealmaker. […]
It’s smart politics on both sides. Obama and Emanuel can get on the good side of two Republican senators who have shown a willingness to break with their party and could provide key votes in the years ahead. And McCain and Graham can start to reposition themselves as the mavericks of yore, playing for history but also maintaining relevance at a time when Republicans have little influence.
Sounds about right.