As Democrats took control of Congress this week, a few reports have emerged of an apparent camaraderie between the outgoing Republicans and the incoming Democrats. Some of these reports deal with the trivial—such as Democrats taking a break from the new session as per outgoing new House Minority Leader John Boehner’s request (Boehner, from Ohio, stressed the importance of a session delay due to Monday’s Ohio State-Flordia BCS championship game). Other reports have linked the policy positions of Senate Republicans to their Democratic counterparts, speaking together in a more unified, outspoken critical fashion about George W. Bush’s plan in Iraq (notably Norm Coleman (MN), Gordon Smith (OR), Olympia Snowe (ME), and, as he has for several months, Chuck Hagel (NE)). Reports even emerged (mostly on the Internet) that Senator Snowe would back the Democratic caucus to prevent a GOP takeover of the Senate, in the event SD Democratic Senator Tim Johnson could not convene with the new session and was replaced by a Republican by SD GOP Governor Tim Rounds.
Whether or not there is a new, true esprit de corps on Capitol Hill is doubtful, but the collegiality of Congress in its first week is enhanced by the fact that the news media—even the borderline ‘straight’ news media and prominent commentators like Bill O’Reilly—are spending at least as much air time covering the battle royale between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell. The alternately inane and humorous exchanges between these headline-hungry personalities have made the opposing parties in Washington, D.C. seem like bosom buddies in comparison. Now that quasi-serious news journalist Barbara Walters has been dragged into the Rosie-Donald fight, the story likely has legs through another few news cycles. As a result, Congress is experiencing a true “Honeymoon” period. As the news media becomes more preoccupied with entertainment non-news, the amount of ink and airtime spent on the serous political debates and differences between the parties on Capitol Hill seems to take a backseat.