Flashback: New Congress, Same Skepticism

Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said, "Let's face it, there's a dynamic in the political arena that's going to make serious, sustained bipartisan cooperation very, very tricky to pull off. We'll see it episodically but in a more sustained way. No matter what they're saying these days, there's a lot to suggest it'll be very hard to do."

Whatever the Democrats' agenda, other issues -- such as the war in Iraq -- have a way of intruding, as happened to House Democratic leaders when anti-war protesters drowned them out Wednesday afternoon.

It seemed in no small way a metaphor for the larger issue not included in the Democrats' "100 Hour" agenda -- the war in Iraq.

Other issues not on any official game plan also have a way of seizing the agenda. For instance, one House Democrat will revive legislation to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili said this week that he agreed, having seen progress for gays and lesbian in the military, and a military stretched too thin.

Democratic leaders are going to try to keep such controversial topics as gays, abortion and guns out of the legislative arena. They don't want to alienate any moderate voters as we go into the 2008 presidential election season.

Z. Byron Wolf, Kendall Evans and Mike Noble contributed to this report.

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