BYGONES…. The presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain got a little contentious at times, but now that it’s over, everyone can get along.

Reverting to the role of Republican foil that made him an unpopular figure for many conservatives, John McCain argued on Friday that historical circumstances should compel his GOP colleagues to work closely with Barack Obama.

“There are not many times in history,” he said, “that a president has come to office with as many challenges as the president-elect does and that’s incumbent then upon all of us to try and do all we can to work with him.”

Appearing on Fox News for one of the few times since losing the election, McCain offered supportive assessments of the president-elect’s agenda. He acknowledged the need to pass a stimulus, but said he would reserve judgment until he saw the final package…. [H]e told Neil Cavuto, “I think the president-elect is going to marshal public opinion. Right now his approval ratings and hopes of the American people are very high,” he later added.

He also called Obama’s national security team “excellent,” and saved special praise for CIA Director nominee Leon Panetta.

And the comity is flowing in both directions.

President-elect Obama plans to honor Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), his general election opponent, at a dinner on the eve of his inauguration.

Vice President-elect Biden and former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) will also be honored in a move to symbolize Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship, his inaugural committee announced Saturday.

“In these times of great challenge and great change, leadership requires rising above the same old narrow partisanship,” Obama stated. “Each of these distinguished Americans has spent his life in service to his country, at each and every moment placing the interests of America before issues of political party. That is precisely the spirit of common purpose we need as we begin the work ahead.”

Everybody can play nice. For now.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.