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Hillary and Newt's common ground

May 20, 2005 | Page 3

YOU MIGHT be surprised at the newest "power couple" in Washington, D.C. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former House Speaker and "Republican Revolutionary" Newt Gingrich teamed up for the cameras last week to promote a bipartisan health care proposal that would allow greater online exchanges of medical information between patients, doctors and health insurers.

The irony won't be lost on anyone who remembers what Gingrich once called the modest national health care reform plan championed by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton during her husband's administration: "washed-over old-time bureaucratic liberalism, or centralized bureaucratic socialism."

Today, these former opponents have found common ground--squarely on the right. "I know it's a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix," Clinton told the press last week. "But the speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way we see the problem."

In fact, according to the New York Times, while the two worked together on a Pentagon panel to improve military readiness, "Gingrich says he has been struck by how pro-military Clinton has turned out to be at a time when other Democrats have criticized President Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq."

Buddying up with the leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution, which took control of Congress away from the Democrats during Bill Clinton's first term, allows Hillary Clinton to spruce up her right-wing credentials--with a Senate reelection campaign coming up in 2006 and a possible presidential bid two years later. As Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told the Times, "It's mutually beneficial. He gets to appear to be a mainstream figure, and she gets to appear as someone who is willing to work with everyone, no matter their ideology."

But Clinton is hardly alone in talking right these days. Supposed liberals among the party leadership--like Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)--are both proclaiming their support for anti-choice Democrats and the need to appeal to "red-state" conservatives.

The emergence of this not-so-odd couple shows how narrow the differences are between the two major parties when it comes to serving the corporate agenda--because the Democrats have moved so far to the right.

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