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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — Just when our politics seemed destined to freeze into a brain-dead brand of partisanship, party lines started cracking up.

It is common in politics to assume that whatever has been happening will keep happening. But a series of events last week suggested that human beings — even those of a highly partisan and ideological sort — bridle at being confined in intellectual straitjackets.

Start with the progress on two of this year’s central issues, gun safety and immigration.

It was unfortunate that talks between Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senate advocates of universal background checks were suspended because Coburn can’t quite get to yes. But the mere fact that Coburn and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) were negotiating at all, and stayed on cordial terms, means something. So did the vote that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) cast in the Judiciary Committee in favor of a bill to make it a federal crime to purchase firearms for another person.

The anti-trafficking measure is the first step toward a sensible gun violence package, and the indefatigable Schumer is not giving up on finding additional Republicans to join Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in support of a strong bill on background checks.

On immigration, former governor Jeb Bush showed what happens when the print deadlines for books are out of step with rapid shifts in the political winds. In Immigration Wars, co-authored with Clint Bolick, Bush came out for legalizing the situation of undocumented immigrants but against giving them a path to citizenship. His book dropped at a moment when leading voices in his party (notably Sen. Marco Rubio, his fellow Florida Republican) have embraced citizenship as a goal.

I hope Secretary of State John Kerry, trashed by a certain Bush brother as a flip-flopper in the 2004 presidential campaign, was entertained by the sight of Jeb Bush’s scrambling to adjust himself to new political realities. But let’s be charitable and take the younger Bush’s evolution as another sign that the ice is breaking in places where it once seemed 30 feet thick.

This is not only a matter of Republicans moving the Democrats’ way. Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster against President Obama’s drone policy shook philosophical categories in a remarkably healthy way.

On the one side were Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-AZ), staunchly defending Obama against their Tea Party colleague. On the other, many liberals — including Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson — praised Paul for opening up a debate we badly need.

  • I have grave doubts that anything much will change anytime soon. I hope to be wrong, but I will not be holding my breath.

    • neeceoooo

      We will hope for the best.

  • With 21 Democrats and only 14 Republicans senators running for re-election or open seats in 2014, Republicans see a chance of seizing control of both chambers of Congress in Nov. 2014. Even the most obtuse, intolerant and greedy Tea Party advocate understands that the biggest obstacle to accomplish their goal is their incendiary rhetoric and counter productive proposals, and towards that end they are moderating their discourse and projecting a facade of moderation that is, obviously, inconsistent with their record and long term goals.

  • old_blu

    We all need to get them voted out in 2014. We need a few more rants like Sen. Rand Paul’s, he’s helping the left center a lot more than he knows. (anyone with their eyes open can see how ridiculous that was).

    • idamag

      And that is one person who is as dumb as he looks.

      • BDC_57

        He is not brightness lite bulb in the package.

        • gahoof

          A friend of mine commented that he thought Rend Paul was “riding a might high on the springs.”

  • Proceed with caution.Actions speak louder than words.These guys have their ideological feet planted in cement.Remember all that they have said and done.

    • neeceoooo

      And usually what they say changes with the wind. Sometimes they sound like a liberal, sometimes they sound like a tea party and sometimes they sound like a moderate.

      • BDC_57

        Unfortunately we have people on the right thinking that these idiots are doing a good job by saying no to everything the left is trying to do.

        • old_blu

          Yes there are you are absolutely right about that.

    • 101strac

      I couldn’t agree more. Allow me to be repetitive and state once more what I stated numerous times in the months leading up to the Presidential election. “Do not let all the lying, cheating, deceptive practices, of the Republican party, fade away into the past between now and 2014. Keep it all fresh in your mind, right up to the moment you cast your vote for the Democratic party. It may appear right now that a thawing of the cold republican heart is taking place. don’t you believe it. They are only saying the words they now realize they have to say, if they want any chance of winning the White House, and God forbid that should happen. If they ever gain the White House you will see a dismantling of everything put in place by the Democrats for the betterment of the American people. I have made myself a promise that I will never give a vote to a republican candidate again, no matter what office he or she seeks.

  • This would be better news if some mor opionated ideas had caved in

  • What it really means is that the 201 elections are coming and they are trying to buy their re-election at the cheapest possible cost and easiest to overturn after the election. I’d rather French kiss a rattlesnake than trust any Republican. A pox on their house.

  • Siegfried Heydrich

    It seriously has to suck being a Republican strategist right about now. What you have is a party at war with itself as well its political opponents. Worse, they’re fighting a generational war on both sides of the political spectrum, and they’re losing badly. I think it’s finally gotten through to them that the people are really, seriously fed up with the nonsense coming out of Washington, and the folks outside the Fox bubble are giving the GOP the hairy eyeball.

    So the ones who want to redeem themselves and the party before the people are breaking out in civility. Unfortunately, to do so marks them out for a vicious primary challenge; if they manage to survive the bruising primary, they will have had to out-crazy their challengers. If they are defeated, the nominee will probably be someone so far out in right field he couldn’t catch a pop fly to save his life . . . It comes down to the simple question of whether or not their base can save them, because there’s no one else. In some of the blood-red states, more than likely. However, in more civilized areas, Republicans are staring into an open grave. I suspect the GOP will hang onto a majority in the House by the skins of their teeth (and claim victory) in ’14, and in ’16 will be reduced to the status of permanent minority.

  • BDC_57

    Need to get out and vote 2014.

  • gahoof

    Republicans willing to negotiate? Careful.

    Kinda like when a rattlesnake cuddles up to you for warmth. It needs the warmth, but that doesn’t mean it won’t bite.

  • 4sanity4all

    They may be coming around on some issues, but the budget issues are still troubling. They seem to still be clinging to the hope that they can ram their outdated, wrong-headed ideas down everyones throat, and if they can’t achieve that, they will obstruct and obstruct until election time rolls around again. At which time, they will run campaigns built on half-truths, lies, and sound bytes designed to hoodwink their loyal followers into voting against their own best interests.