Tales from the Trail

Reform-minded Angus King says he’s had warm Senate welcome

Senator-elect Angus King came to Washington preaching bipartisanship and fearing that many of his new colleagues wouldn’t go near him, figuring he’s “a strange creature.”

But to King’s delight, a number of Democrats and Republicans stepped forward to say that they share his desire to end congressional gridlock.

“I was a little apprehensive coming down here,” King told Reuters TV on Thursday (video above), his third day in Washington after last week’s congressional and presidential elections.

“I was afraid they would say all say, ‘Forget it. We’re not going to talk to this strange creature from Maine who’s an independent,’” King said.

“But I have been pleasantly surprised. There’s been a lot of positive, I think genuinely warm words of – ‘Hey, let’s get together. Let’s talk. Let’s see if we can work on some of these problems together.’”

Washington Extra – Obama has left the building

obama1A very non-lame Lame Duck is just about done and President Barack Obama is off to his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Aloha, Mr. President, and congratulations on December. Let’s take a moment to recap.

The Senate approved START today. It’s a big deal for U.S.-Russian relations and sends a clear message to Moscow: Work with us, not against us. The president killed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. It was a priority for Obama who promised on the campaign trail to end the ban on gays openly serving in the military. Democrats caved on taxes and approved Obama’s compromise with Republicans — giving the president a chance to take credit, whether it was an optical win or something more substantial notwithstanding.

Now, some of my colleagues in the media biz think all of this adds up to a Comeback Kid moment for Obama. They see this as a great showing for a man who had the cards stacked against him after Democrats’ November drubbing. It’s not a completely off-base analysis, but it is a bit too dramatic for Extra.

Washington Extra – Gridlock and the fiscal deficit

summit

The term gridlock may have first entered the vocabulary during the 1980 New York transit strike, reportedly coined by “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, chief traffic engineer in the city’s transport department.  In those days it was definitely not something to aspire to. It is a different story in 2010.

“Gridlock’s not all bad,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told the Reuters Washington Summit today, citing the need to “slow things down” politically.  His fellow Senator and Tea Party champion Jim DeMint would probably go even further.

But is that really what lies in store after the midterm elections?

Republican and Democratic speakers on the first day of the summit agreed on one thing above all else: that the other party is to blame for the lack of bipartisanship in Washington.