Monday's meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and the man he defeated was "more about symbolism than substance," said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post, but it raised an interesting question. What's next for John McCain? Will the former Republican candidate "return to his deal-brokering ways" in the Senate, or lead the loyal opposition to Obama, or simply serve out the last two years of his term and retire?
Both McCain and Obama have "much to gain from a swift reconciliation after a bitter contest," said Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler in The Wall Street Journal via Google News. But it's unclear whether McCain wants to play the peacemaker. In the final campaign stretch McCain "emphasized areas where he was in agreement with most Republicans, such as the need for more oil drilling, tax cuts and free-market health care," and he didn't say much about finding common ground with Democrats.
This is "unusually soon" for rival presidential candidates to meet, suggesting that McCain and Obama want to work together, said Brian Knowlton in The New York Times. And that's understandable—both have much to gain. They have similar views on climate change and ethics reform, and Obama could use help passing an economic stimulus. And McCain will want Obama's ear as he pushes against a quick withdrawal from Iraq.
People who know McCain say he's eager to leave the campaign behind, said James Carney in Time online. McCain spent decades building a reputation as the Senate's "leading reformer and bipartisan legislator," and the patriot in him is reportedly determined to show he can work with the new president. And Obama is showing more than "magnanimity and self-confidence" by meeting with McCain so quickly—he's also doing what's in his own best interest.