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Tuesday, May 24, 2005


a new center

knight-ridder is documenting a move to the center as a centrist coalition in the war zone formerly known as the house of representatives forwards a bill financing new lines of embryonic stem cells. this in addition to the emergence of mccain's 14.

If it persists, this new political center could force President Bush to negotiate with Congress to a degree he rarely has done. Even if this centrist coalition doesn't endure, its successes this week suggest that the post-Sept. 11, 2001, deference of the Republican-ruled Congress to President Bush no longer is automatic.

"Whether it's a stable governing coalition remains to be seen," said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota. "It took great duress to create this center."

Experts expect more such maverick coalitions to appear as Congress feels pressure from Bush's ambitious agenda and interest groups on both sides demand take-no-prisoners fights. Such all-out confrontations fuel electoral politics, fundraising, and radio and television ratings for the 2006 and 2008 elections, but they also antagonize many voters, and centrists seem to be responding.
a militant white house is already threatening a veto -- but if forced to follow through, bush would be mercilessly painted as the tool of the cultist right, itself a victory of sorts.

one can only hope that these new coalitions hold together under what is sure to be extreme duress from both party leaderships. pressure has been building in washington verging on violence, and this may be the third way to defuse rising anxiety.

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