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Posts Tagged Congress

How to Make Congress Work: Workout!

Here's a feel good piece from BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera detailing the unlikely pairing of liberal Luis Gutierrez and conservative Paul Ryan–two men that "are about as far apart ideologically as two congressmen can be."  If lightning strikes and the House gets beyond gridlock on immigration reform no doubt this "Congressional odd couple" should be the ones uncorking the Champaign.

Nocera relates that the friendship formed thanks to frequent run-ins at the House gym "where early morning workouts inevitably turn into locker room conversations about policy." And we thought swinging rather than pumping iron was the way to forge links in D.C. 

But then on reflection one would be hard-pressed to imagine a more ideal place. There is an informality about working out that may not obtain on the golf course. Plus the convenience, the proximity, the frequency…

Best case scenario: Working out winds up working like this: 

When Ryan was on the vice presidential campaign trail last year, he returned to the House several times to cast votes, and Gutierrez pulled him aside one morning in the gym…“I said, ‘Well you know you might be vice president, not that I’m going to help you in anyway. But if you win can I get to call you about immigration? Are we still going to collaborate?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely, even more,”” Gutierrez recalled.

All this warm fuzzy frolicking towards bubbly must be qualified.  While both Congressmen are political opponents they actually began from common ground on immigration reform.  And then, voila, both men have common ground as in shared patch of earth: Gutierrez-Chicago, Ryan-Wisconsin. Add to this a shared Catholicism and the unlikely pairing seems likelier and likelier.

But the thing is that for so many of our polarized partisans there exists such wide swaths of commonality.  It just needs facilitating. A golf course here, a gym there. Before you know it you have a functioning government, etc.

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Does President Obama Golf Enough?

The rap on Obama, heating up of late, has been that he hangs with the same few friends and is not playing the political game properly. And inside the beltway the game that drives relationships and gets things done is golf. In his exchange with congressional insider Paul Kane  Chris Cillizza opines:

I love the golf thing. I always tell people who have never spent any time up on Capitol Hill that the whole place is driven by relationships. Most big deals — or grand bargains I guess is what we call them now — came as a result of a personal connection between the president and a Congressional leader (or two). They liked each other and, more importantly, trusted each other so they were more willing to deal on the tough stuff…So, my question is this: Does Obama not LIKE Members of Congress?

Of course Obama needn't be always gripping an iron to forge bonds. The main idea being that the President really needs to take the lead. Paul Kane, who doesn't care to fixate on the golf thing, put the matter in its proper, beaming, light:

…there is still something intrinsically cool and powerful about the presidency. When Obama finally hosted a big dinner with senators, at the Jefferson in March, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) was absolutely beaming the very next day. He is as tea party as you can be in the Senate, and he’s been one angry guy for most of his 2-plus years in the Senate. Yet that day, after being in a small room with the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, you could see it in his face how cool he thought it was. He talked about how Obama was charming and engaging and nice, the sorta things Ron Johnson never said about Barack Hussein Obama ever before in his life.

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