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Former U.S. Senate leaders Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-MS) sized up the often-fractious political climate of today at a public discussion sponsored by NYU Wagner's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress on Feb. 2, 2011.
In 2001, the two ex-senators traded roles as Senate majority leader three times. But sitting in armchairs in Vanderbilt Hall and speaking before an overflow crowd of almost 500 listeners, they were congenial -- especially in comparison to the often-fierce partisanship that has defined recent sessions of Congress.
Rogan Kersh, Wagner professor of public policy and associate dean for academic affairs, was the moderator. "It can be reassuring to return to an earlier time," he remarked.
Although Daschle and Lott lamented what they called a loss of comraderie among Congress members, they maintained that leadership has been, and will remain, the key to overcoming strained relations between the two parties.
Neither was despairing about today's political atmosphere. Indeed, Lott said, "The Senate was designed to be dysfunctional .... to cool off the hot action of the House." In addition, he noted, major legislation, such as the national healthcare overall, gained recent approval despite its highly controversial nature.
Politico.com's "Playbook," a roster of the latest DC news and happenings compiled by reporter Mike Allen, included the following item on January 19 about NYU Wagner's Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration Doug Band:
"ALUMNI NEWS: After conceiving and building the Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton counselor/consigliere/post-presidency architect Doug Band recently joined the NYU staff as an adjunct professor and will use his nearly 16 years working for the Clintons to teach a public service, policy and politics course (despite earning his master's and law degrees from Georgetown). Doug also serves on the international advisory board for Coca-Cola, and on the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Vote Vets boards, all while still running Clinton, Inc., helping heads of state around the world transition out of office, and raising his son Max, who recently turned one (and has started walking), with his wife Lily in NYC."