The best way for a conservative Republican to develop a working relationship with a liberal Democrat in the Senate is to get to know their dog. Ted Kennedy had his dog, Splash; Kent Conrad has his dog, Dakota. We worked on No Child Left Behind and Conrad-Gregg, which led to the Simpson-Bowles commission. Dogs do not generally get hung up on ideology, they just want to sit under the hearing dais and have their ears scratched. There are no special ways or tricks to crossing the aisle and getting something done in a bipartisan way with colleagues who hold genuinely different views of the world. You just simply do it. Most everyone who serves in the Senate is a reasonable, substantive person, and likeable. There are exceptions on both sides of the aisle, but they are exceptions. The key is respect and reasonableness. No senator of one party expects the senator he or she is working with of the other party to relinquish his or her core beliefs. It is not necessary. There are almost always numerous areas where progress can be made and common ground found. It took Ron Wyden and I two years of essentially constant negotiation to develop a massive tax reform law. It was the result of us both wanting to get something done in a critical area and acknowledging that we came at the issue with different views but many common goals. It does take a while to develop the relationships of trust and respect that are at the core of getting big things done in a divided system. But why be there if you do not try? Of course, the other option is to get every senator a dog. • Gregg, a former Republican senator and New Hampshire governor, is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.


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