The process wasn’t pretty, but Gingrich and Clinton revamped the welfare system, created a new entitlement that guaranteed health care for children who didn’t qualify for Medicaid, and balanced the budget. They had proved they could work together before Gingrich became speaker, negotiating carefully over how many Republican votes Gingrich could deliver to pass NAFTA, a treaty both of them favored. “Despite all their political differences and their highly charged public battles, President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich managed to work behind the scenes to make government work,” historian Steven Gillon noted a year into Trump’s presidency. Gillon added that divided government was more effective in the 1990s than one-party rule has been in the 21st century.
It could happen again, but only if the Jan. 5 runoffs for Georgia’s two Senate seats go the Republicans’ way. I realize that this is counterintuitive. Nor is it the prevailing view: I’m writing this essay in response to a Morton Kondracke column arguing that the future of Joe Biden’s presidency, not to mention our Republic itself, depends on Democrats winning in the Peach State and thereby capturing both houses of Congress and the White House.