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Washington not divided?

January 14, 2011 1:32:57 PM PST
Is there a sea change in attitude in Washington? Will some of the vitriol and hatred fueled in large part by cable television bloviators finally be toned down?

Plenty of reasons to answer those questions with a resounding "no." But there are also reasons to wonder if "maybe" might also apply.

In the shadow of last Saturday's massacre and political assassination in Tucson, the notion was floated this week that the President's "State of the Union" address on Jan. 25 should feature an "undivided" gathering of Congress with Democrats and Republicans sitting side by side, instead of divided by an aisle.

There are many Senators now jumping on the bandwagon. Is it a sign that something's in the wind? We'll see.

Then there is the rather remarkable Op-Ed piece by Sen. John McCain, set to run this Sunday in the Washington Post. McCain describes Pres. Obama's speech in Tucson on Wednesday as "terrific," and he urges a "more civil" approach to politics.

"I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause," writes McCain. " I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them."

The words will surely rile some of the people inspired to hatred against Pres. Obama by McCain and his running mate's barn-burning accusations during the 2008 campaign.

We're following developments and fallout from the Tucson shootings at 11 ? including word tonight that the 9-year-old girl who was killed Christina-Taylor Green donated her organs and that, tonight, someone on the East Coast is alive because of it. Wow.

One other quick political note: the latest poll out today shows Mr. Obama in a huge surge of popularity, compared to three months ago. Match-ups with potential GOP rivals show him with double-digit leads, and a 26 percent lead over Sarah Palin, in a hypothetical matchup. Of course, the election is nearly two years away ? an ion in politics.

Also at 11, the DEA tonight is admitting that it messed up during its drug raids yesterday, and rammed their way into the wrong house, terrifying the family that lived there. Our story last night was chilling, with the father, his face hidden, tearing up as he described guns stuck in his daughter's face, and agents threatening to kill the family dog.

And a program reminder: Tonight on 20/20, Elizabeth Vargas has a remarkable interview with Ron Reagan, Jr., whose new book about his father sheds light on the Alzheimer's disease that affected the former President. His son reveals that the disease became evident in Mr. Reagan's first term ? adding fuel to the speculation that he was often "out of touch" during his White House days.

We're also on top of the controversy involving the new New York City Schools Chancellor's remarks about birth control. Cathie Black, at a private session with educators and parents, suggested that one of the solutions to school overcrowding was "birth control."

There are many who are now angry over what Ms. Black today describes as an "off-handed joke" during a conversion and discussion about overcrowding.

Like any controversial situation ? or any off-handed joke ? there are truths and falsehoods, harshness and political incorrectness involved. And groups that already think they're threatened by a system they often don't feel part of, take such suggestions of "birth control" as a direct attack.

Black this afternoon apologized for offending anyone; others are now calling for her to resign.

And Nina Pineda tonight has the story of a young father, running out of heating oil for his family. The oil company ? for some reason ? didn't deliver fuel oil as it was contracted to do. So the dad called Nina, and got 7 On Your Side.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers in Boston for the Jets playoff game, with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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