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For the next two years, the chances are good that the U.S. government will be almost completely paralyzed. After the midterm elections, power is more perfectly divided between a president and Congress that detest each other. Each sees its main job as blocking the other’s ambitions. The Republican majorities on Capitol Hill will pass bills to make a point; the Democratic president will veto them.

The State of the Union address and the response to it set the pattern. The president laughed contemptuously at Congress, and Congress contemptuously laughed back. The prospect is for more of the dysfunction the country has already endured, carried to another level.

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