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Cupid's To Blame For Washington Love Fest

By Bill Schneider/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 14) -- Something very strange is happening in Washington. Our normally squabbling and contentious politicians seem to have been overcome by an attack of niceness. Have aliens taken over their bodies? What's going on?

They say politics make strange bedfellows, but they don't get much stranger than the recent match-up of Newt Gingrich and Jesse Jackson. Jesse loves Newt. Newt loves Jesse.


During an appearance last month on Jackson's CNN program "Both Sides," House Speaker Gingrich said, "Maybe a lot of Americans will be a little surprised to see us having this kind of dialogue, but I reached the conclusion because I'm so controversial that if my being speaker was to be..."

Jackson interrupted, saying, "You're convinced you are controversial?"

"It does seem to be something one could -- you and I can both share," Gingrich answered.

Thank you for sharing.

Well, they say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well, here are two guys brought together by a mutual enemy. On the right is Rep. John Kasich (R-Ohio). "When we give a subsidy, the benefit to the public ought to exceed the benefits to the company. And when it doesn't, that's our definition of corporate welfarem" Kasich said last month.


On the left is consumer activist Ralph Nader. During the same appearance Nader said, "This welfare for wealthy companies wastes taxpayer dollars, harms the environment and makes a mockery of the recent reductions in federal social spending programs."

The political watchdog group Common Cause does not often make common cause with big business. But this week, the group's president announced a plan to rally public support for campaign finance reform.

Common Cause President Ann McBride said, "The goal is simple. It's to help Americans reclaim their democracy."

And look who's joining that effort. It's Jerome Kohlberg, the founder of one of the country's biggest leveraged buy-out firms. "When dollars, not votes, elect our legislators and formulate our policy, I think it's time to change the system," Kohlberg said.

Look who else became partners this week. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), twelve-term conservative opponent of term limits, said during a floor debate on the subject, "Do not give up on democracy. Trust the people."

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), nine-term liberal opponent of term limits, agreed. "As the gentleman from Illinois has consistently and courageously articulated, it is at bottom a view that says we cannot trust the voters," Frank said.

The most remarkable love fest came on Tuesday, when President Bill Clinton went up to Capitol Hill to talk about the budget. Threats of gridlock? Shutdown? Not this week.

"I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful. And I'm gratified to be invited to be here," Clinton said.

And from the other side? Sweetness and light.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said, "We are beginning to see that there are common grounds."

Gingrich concurred. "I think we're better off to sort of relax. This is a nice step for one day, and we'll come back another day."

Where did all this lovey-dovey stuff come from? Wait a minute. Of course! It's Valentine's Day!

A recent ad in The Washington Post run by the Jefferson Hotel, for those who know Washington, is offering a Valentine's Day special. See? It reads, "The Jefferson surrounds you with romance." Ask Dick Morris.

So we'll give our political play of the week to Cupid, this handsome and deserving fellow who has taken over Washington. He's got all those bickering politicians singing from the same hymn book.

Valentine's day was not always like this. One eminent authority on matters of the heart, Ann Landers, writes that early Valentine greetings in Victorian England were anything but messages of love. Here's an example:

"I'll treat you with scorn whenever we pass
You deceitful, oily-tongued, snake-in-the-grass."

Now that sounds more like a Washington Valentine.

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