PLAYING THE ENDGAME

BEYOND LAST WEEK'S BIPARTISAN GESTURES LOOMS THE BIGGEST SHOWDOWN WASHINGTON HAS SEEN IN YEARS. THE RISING FIGHT OVER MEDICARE IS JUST PART OF IT

When Bill Clinton met with Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and the rest of the congressional leadership last week, the mood was cordial, the atmosphere so thick with promises to work together you could almost forget that not long ago the G.O.P. revolutionaries were ready to set up guillotines on the Capitol Mall. The impulse to cooperate was not entirely contrived, as Senate Republicans and Democrats proved last week when they made real progress toward a final version of welfare reform. Clinton even praised the Senate in his Saturday radio address for "wisdom and courage" in crafting the bill that he said...

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