The January 20 Inauguration and the January 31 Alfalfa Club dinner brought me in close quarters again with John McCain and allowed me to bring John and Sarah Palin together for the first time since election night.
I have met numerous times since the election with John McCain and have been heartened and inspired by his refusal to look backward, his total absence of bitterness or even disappointment, and his singular focus on helping meet the challenges facing our country. Senator Obama was gracious to have a dinner the night before his inauguration honoring John McCain, and the bipartisan spirit of the gathering together with John’s heartfelt and supportive remarks added to my admiration for this man of extraordinary character. The next day was the Inauguration Day, and that night I was privileged to host a dinner at my home for John, Cindy, and a small group of friends and supporters. It was light hearted, and the only looking back consisted of stories by John, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins about some of the lighter moments and faux pas on their trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and other hot spots.
A little over a week later was the Alfalfa Club dinner. Alfalfa is a 200 member club with mostly illustrious members such as leading Senators, Congressmen, CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, and former Presidents, as well as a few such as myself, who somehow slipped past the screening. The club does absolutely nothing other than an annual dinner filled with patriotism, bipartisanship, and very humorous speakers, including traditionally the President. Each member is allowed to bring two guests and one of mine this year was Sarah Palin. The night before, last reported by Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post, Marlene and I hosted a small dinner at our home for my Alfalfa guests and a few other friends. Here is what impressed me most over the weekend:
- The warmth John McCain showed toward Sarah Palin when she arrived at my home Friday night. It was the first time they had been together since the election, and their good feelings toward each other were evident.
- The gracious and engaged Sarah Palin was with everyone. It was great to see her in deep conversations with people like Alan Greenspan, Madeleine Albright, Walter Isaacson, and Mitch McConnell. For sure, nothing shallow about this lady.
- The celebrity treatment Sarah received from the highly sophisticated crowd at Alfalfa. There were as many or more people lined up to meet her as there was for President Obama.
- Sarah’s singular focus on her job as Governor of Alaska. She left Anchorage on a 2:30 a.m. flight Friday so as not to miss a day on the job, and she singled out people to meet who could be impactful to Alaska, including President Obama.
- Sarah’s grace and charisma reminded me of why she had been selected as John McCain’s running mate.
All of this brings me to a few reflections on the 2008 campaign which I will offer in the coming days, in a series of a few postings.
Note: I’ve posted this over from my personal blog, and look forward to sharing more of these thoughts with you here in the near future.