Rumor has it that two men met on a virtually deserted Capitol Hill yesterday, braving the snow and, potentially, the disapproval of their peers to talk with one another.
Could it be that a Republican—a freshman Southern Senator, no less—has the guts to really seek common ground with a Democrat? Could it be that an outgoing Democrat might still have the energy—after over 35 years of public service and a year of solid, indiscriminate opposition to every Democratic initiative—to keep working toward accord instead of sitting back and waiting out his time in office?
The Republican, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, was elected in 2006 and won’t be up for reelection until 2012. Therefore, he may feel he can afford the risk of actually bargaining in good faith with the Democratic majority. Nevertheless, it takes guts for a Republican to be the least bit conciliatory these days, lest he or she end up savagely attacked by the Republican caucus and challenged in a primary by hard-line conservatives (ala Dede Scozzafava).
The Democrat, Senator Chris Dodd, has a long history of bipartisan cooperation with his ideological opponents—until the past 13 months, anyway, at which point the Republicans in Congress closed ranks to form a solid wall of opposition to anything being accomplished in a Democratic administration that might resemble progress.
But thanks to a spate of bad weather, these two men had a little time on their hands. And it appears that they chose to spend it in the service of their country, trying to get a little something done.
I have a fantasy. I’d like to think that all over Washington, D.C., this week, long-time Congressional colleagues are meeting in groups of two or four, in coffee shops and restaurants—away from the cameras and microphones, reporters and lobbyists that make it so hard to focus on substance rather than appearances. I’d like to think they’re remembering how they once liked each other, exchanging news about their families, sharing their frustrations, and then maybe—just maybe—tentatively agreeing to agree, rather than disagree.
If such a thing were happening in Washington, wouldn’t that be lovely? That would be “cool” of an entirely different kind. It seems to have happened once (even though the colleagues in question were caught out by the press). Maybe it could happen again. And again.
And if so—let it snow, let it snow.