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During the 2004 presidential campaign, Senator John Kerry thought so highly of Senator John McCain that the Democratic presidential nominee broached the idea of joining forces with the Arizona Republican on a bipartisan White House ticket.
McCain politely declined, swallowed his pride, and made up that year with George W. Bush, who had savaged him during the 2000 GOP South Carolina primary en route to the presidency.
Bush ended up beating Kerry for a second term.
Fast-forward to 2008, when McCain himself was the GOP presidential nominee: It was hard to imagine a sharper split between him and Kerry, his fellow Vietnam War veteran and Senate compatriot.
Kerry's speech to the Democratic National Convention in Denver was Exhibit A:
"I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years, but every day now I learn something new about Candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say let's compare Senator McCain to Candidate McCain.
"Candidate McCain now supports the very wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once called irresponsible. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain's own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote.
"Are you kidding me, folks? Talk about being for it before you're against it!
"Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself...
"So remember, when we choose a commander-in-chief this November, we are electing judgment and character, not years in the Senate or on this Earth. Time and again, Barack Obama has seen farther and listened harder and listened better and thought harder. And time and again, Barack Obama has proven right."
McCain was focused on Obama himself, not Kerry, so the invective from his mouth was less prevalent in 2008.
That's also because the damage was done earlier.
In October 2006, Kerry was condemned after he told an audience at Pasadena City College in California, amid a critique of President Bush's Iraq policy: "You know education. If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Amid the uproar that followed, Kerry apologized for delivering what he termed a "botched joke." He said it was intended as a policy critique, suggesting Bush hadn't studied hard enough in college to avoid a bad decision in Iraq. Kerry said it was not a criticism of the troops who were there in combat.
Nonetheless, McCain was unsparing with the Massachusetts senator.
The fellow veteran said Kerry owed soldiers an apology, adding: "The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night."
In 2007, there were news reports suggesting McCain was taking donations from some of the same people who supported the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. During the 2004 campaign, it had challenged Kerry's military record and achievements with a harsh advertising campaign one that McCain condemned at the time.
Four years hence, the two appear to have soothed any hostilities.
Kerry and McCain strode together yesterday into a Senate news studio to jointly announce a bipartisan bill that would require companies tracking Internet users to ensure they protect personal information.
The 2011 Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act would also allow consumers to opt out of having their data collected, and limit the amount of information trackers collect.
The Globe's Theo Emery said there was a brief moment of tension when a reporter asked a two-part question, first about the bill and second about about a year-end budget introduced yesterday.
Kerry ignored the first question and instead spent four or five minutes criticizing the budget agreement and the process that hatched it, while McCain stood off to the side looking uncomfortable.
After Kerry finished, McCain returned to the bill at hand. A few questions later, the two men left together.
The reunification of their relationship became public late last year, when both Kerry and McCain called on the Senate to ratify the New START treaty with Russia. It ended up being folded into a series of legislation passed during the lame-duck session.
More recently, the two have been in accord, calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down in Epypt, then for economic assistance akin to the Marshall Plan for both Egypt and Tunisia in the aftermath of the public uprisings against authoritarian rulers.
The two former Navy men also called on an allied force to impose a no-fly zone over Libya as the protests spread to that North African nation and leader Moammar Khadafy unleashed his military on civilians.
The reconciliation was evident when Kerry stepped to the microphone yesterday in the Capitol, with none of the contempt that permeated his 2008 convention speech.
"I'm delighted to join my friend, my colleague John McCain today as we introduce important legislation with respect to privacy," he said.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.