Finally, Some Reasons to Smile in D.C.

Two instances of bipartisanship lift the gloom in America's capital.

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., arrive at a Congressional Budget Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

It is not often that those of us political animals inside the proverbial beltway open up our Washington Post and have a smile on our faces. Scowls have been the order of the day for quite some time now.

This morning, though, two stories caught my eye and lifted my spirits.

The first was the passage of the budget deal by the House of Representatives. When has the House passed anything like this by a margin of 332-94? Maybe when Barack Obama and John Boehner were in knee-pants. There were only 32 Democratic "no" votes and 62 Republican "no" votes – mostly from the more conservative and more liberal members.

Make no mistake, Democrats and Republicans are surely not holding hands and singing kumbaya. But the endless showdowns and shutdowns have taken a toll. Members are tired and the public is furious. For two days, Speaker Boehner has made it crystal clear that outside groups and some members have been "misleading"; he even said some have "lost all credibility." In short, he has had enough and he has taken on the likes of Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]  

Seven conservative Senators are now being challenged in their primaries by extreme right-wing candidates backed by many of these groups. The Chamber of Commerce, the business community and Republican leaders on the Hill have recognized that the backfire potential is serious and severe, not just in terms of their politics but policy, as well.

The fact that we have a two-year agreement is critical for the business community. Heck, if two months is an eternity in politics, two years seems like beyond forever. So the fact that this compromise is not really anyone's cup of tea, Republican or Democrat, doesn't stop them from drinking it. They believe it is likely to work.

So that agreement between Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan brought a pretty nice smile to my face.

The second article was on page two, written by Melinda Henneberger, and was entitled, "Bob Dole Honored for Work in Helping to Feed the Poor." It was all about the late George McGoven and the now 90-year-old Bob Dole working together to feed the hungry here at home and around the world. It was all about shared interests and shared respect. It was a tribute to a program named in their honor that has resulted in more than 22 million children in 41 countries getting fed.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

Yesterday, Dole defended McGovern's heroics in World War II as a fighter pilot, and he knows a little something about heroics. Yesterday, Dole recounted how McGovern took him on a tour across America that opened his eyes to the problem of malnutrition in the nation. And yesterday, all who were there learned a little something about men of different parties and persuasions delivering for people.

The Washington Post article closes with a wonderful paragraph: 

The long partnership and friendship that grew between the liberal and the conservative is "one of the most beautiful political stories in history, said David Lambert, a longtime food security advocate who worked with McGovern and advises Dole on the issue. "This was from the heart."

It is hard, even for anyone who has been discouraged of late, not to break into a smile when reading that over a morning cup of coffee.

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