by RAY FLEMING
WAS the US presidential election really necessary?
Reading the joint statement issued by Barack Obama and John McCain after their meeting in Chicago on Monday it was difficult to remember what they had disagreed about during the campaign. “Working together on challenges such as the financial crisis, creating a new energy economy and protecting the country's security” was one indication of a new-found identity of interest that was certainly not much in evidence in the months before November 4.

And what about: “The need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington to restore trust in government”? Were not these the two men the same who fought each other with “bitter partisanship” for months on end? The joint statement also contained references to “changing the bad habits of Washington” which were a reminder of one of the persistent themes of Obama's primaries campaign. Yet almost all the staff appointments he has made so far are of people either from the Clinton administrations of the 1990s or from his Chicago base. When shall we hear of appointments that are likely to help fulfill the “changing Washington” claim? It was a nice gesture by the President-elect to invite his recent opponent for a chat but I preferred Mr Obama's pre-meeting comment, “We're going to see how we can work together to fix up the country” to the platitudinous statement that emerged later.

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