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Erskine Bowles Hearts Richard Burr?

Ben Smith flags an N&O squib about some kind words Richard Burr and Erskine Bowles had for one another at a recent event in Durham, North Carolina. Burr, of course, defeated Bowles in the race to succeed John Edwards back in 2004:

"I've had a chance to work with this guy for four full years and nobody works harder or smarter for North Carolina than Richard Burr does," Bowles told about 200 people at N.C. Central University. "His focus on this state is truly unbelievable."

In introducing Bowles, Burr said: "Erskine Bowles is the best president of the university system we had the pleasure of having."

Ben says Bowles's remarks"are not going to help the Democrats' efforts to recruit a strong challenger." But I think it's important to understand that Bowles was presumably making these comments not as Burr's former opponent but as the guy who now, as president of the state's university system, relies on Burr's help to get federal money. In other words, if one of North Carolina's U.S. Senate seats was still held by Jesse Helms--who, in addition to his many other sins, once referred to UNC as the "University of Negroes and Communists"--I bet Bowles would be saying nice things about him, too, so long as there was the possibility that Helms could get the state's universities more federal aid. Bowles is just doing his job.