Given the last couple of years of brinkmanship, chest-thumping and ultimatum-giving, the fact that both Democrats and Republicans are acting downright reasonable in the fiscal cliff negotiations is shocking. Conversations with those on Capitol Hill, indicate this is not just an act. The election -- and the debt ceiling disaster -- actually has shaped behavior.
One high-level House Democratic insider told ABC News Political Director Amy Walter: "Everyone learned their lessons. Look like you're playing nice."
A top Republican staffer put it this way: "There is a zero-drama way to get this done."
And although House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi offered a firm "no" when asked in an interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week" if a deal to avoid plunging off the fiscal cliff could exclude tax rate hikes on the wealthy, she also sounded downright conciliatory when it came to the tone of the negotiations more generally.
"As one with a seat at the table, I don't think it's my role to go to the table with a threat. I think it's my role to go to the table with some ideas, to be receptive to what we can come to agreement on," Pelosi told Raddatz. "I'm not criticizing statements others make, but what I am saying is that there's too much at risk."
If they do strike a deal before the end of the year, Congress may actually see something they haven't seen in a long time: a bump up in their approval ratings. (Surveys show that currently more than three-quarters of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.)
After eight years of tribal warfare Congressional leaders may have finally realized that the only way to improve their own standing is to show the American public they can actually work with the other side.