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Centrifugal forces at work in DC
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By Rick Holmes
March 11, 2013 3:05 p.m.



People are starting to report a sudden shift in the wind in Washington. The partisan ice is breaking. Players on opposing teams are talking to each other, showing new flexibility in their positions. Civility is making a comeback.  E.J. Dionne reflects this thinking in today’s Daily News.



Granted, these reports come from people desperate to see a change in the political dynamic.  But there are good reasons to expect such a change. Consider the centrifugal forces at work in national politics:



-       Obama is a lame duck. That empowers him to make bold moves. It also empowers Democrats, who no longer have to worry about his re-election and can look to their own futures.



-       Both the magnetic centers of the Republican Party – the Tea Party grassroots and the K Street axis – came out of the 2012 elections weakened.



-       Boehner is hanging on to the speaker’s chair by his fingernails. He can’t impose discipline. Neither can Mitch McConnell, who has a primary challenge to worry about. Harry Reid has always been seen as weak, and he’s got an unruly class of freshman senators to deal with.



-       In short, everyone’s a free agent, empowered to push whatever policy or personal agenda he or she wants. Rand Paul made himself a force on the topic of executive power with one 13-hour speech.  Others will find their own niches to occupy. Some will find pockets of public anger to echo; some will decide civility sells and that independent voters will reward dealmakers.



It seems like a healthy turn of events to me, especially compared to the last Congress.



 

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