éjà vu? Back in 1994, the GOP tumbled into Congress like a pack of foxhounds just released for the hunt, and Gingrich Republicans tore into environmental laws as if voters had cried, "Sic 'em!" It didn't take too many Sunday morning close-ups before Newt and his gang looked like a bunch of rabid ideologues. Americans got tired of all the snarling and, in 1996, sent them home with their tails between their legs.
So here we are again. The Republicans are in charge, but this time they have a new trick: Play to the middle in public, but court industry behind the scenes. In Congress, it's not a hard thing for committee chairs to do: pushing legislation they (or their campaign contributors) like, tabling what they don't, and doing it largely outside the klieg-light glare of presidential politics. Luckily, Republicans aren't all of one breed. In a Congress so closely divided, the good dogs might make all the difference.