Winter Companions, Old Men Lost in their Overcoats


Newsweek's Tale of Genji-length wrap-up of the presidential campaign has been picked over pretty well for McCain and Obama secrets and the thinking behind decisions like "hey, that Alaska woman with the Fargo accent can be president one day." I was struck by how much time McCain spent with South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, whom if only scattered fragments of this story are available in 100 years would be remembered as a modern Joshua Speed. He brainstormed the "celebrity" ad. He urged McCain to pick Vinegar Joe Lieberman as a running mate to "match history with history." And basically they hung out all the time.

Somewhere on the 14-hour plane ride back, McCain said to Graham, "You know we got to keep going; we can't let those guys down." Graham replied, "That's right, John. If they can do it, we can do it."

The weather in Charleston was awful—sleeting rain—and McCain seemed caged, cooped up with his friend Lindsey Graham, who was annoying him by trying to "visualize" victory. By 7 p.m., Cindy and Graham were ready to "jump out the window," Graham later recalled. McCain's 95-year-old mother, Roberta, tried to lighten the mood by cracking jokes about how she wanted to marry Lindsey.

McCain could look hot or riled up (his traveling buddy Lindsey Graham particularly affected his moods, for better and for worse).

Piper, the governor's 7-year-old, thought nothing of crawling across Joe Lieberman's lap to get to her mother. Lindsey Graham mischievously enjoyed getting the child hopped up on Mountain Dew, a beverage to which he was mildly addicted.

McCain had been too wound up to get to sleep, calling Graham at 1 a.m. ("What'd ya think, boy?" "Home run.")

As Lindsey Graham told the story, he had been awakened at 4:30 on the morning of the final debate. It was McCain on the phone. "I can't sleep," said the candidate. "Well, now neither can I," said a sleepy Graham.

There's nothing quite so… Adam West and Burt Ward about the magazine's Obama reporting. If anything, he comes off as eerily calm and equally eerily dorky.

During one of the debate preps, the lights blew, flickering on and off like a strobe light from the 1970s disco craze. Obama stood behind the podium, quietly singing the song "Disco Inferno," last popular in the heyday of "Saturday Night Fever."

"That's an interesting belt buckle," he said to Michelle, mischievously. She feigned offense and said, "I am interesting, next to you. Surprise, surprise, a blue suit, a white shirt and a tie." Obama grinned and bent down until he was almost at eye level with her waist. He jabbed a playful finger toward her belt buckle, and let loose his inner nerd. "The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!" Obama squeaked, laughing at his own lame joke as Michelle rolled her eyes.

That's what you had to choose between, America: a man who calls Lindsey Graham when he can't get to sleep and a man who still quotes The Trammps.