In politics, as well as life, conflict is ever present. You might be surprised to know there are actually three basic rules that define behavior during conflict. While this is a deep subject, what's listed below is by no means mean to be exhaustive, but simply a first understanding.
1) In any conflict between two parties, who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent party that wins.
2) In any collaboration between two men, who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil, or the more irrational one who claims victory.
3) When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not openly defined, but hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.
If this doesn't explain exactly the behavior of our politicians in Washington, I don't know what does. For example, let look at say, Nancy Pelosi's statement during the healthcare legislation debate....
"We have to pass the bill to know what's in the bill."
That simple incoherent statement is a combination of rule #2 and rule #3. It was done intentionally and not a random rambling of a confused mind as one might suppose. It was designed to deflect and confuse the debate, and it did exactly that. No one in the crowd challenged that absurd exchange. She got a pass, smiled, and walked away from the podium, and continued to jamb the unpopular legislation down our throats.
These three rules speak volumes to what goes on daily in Washington. I'll bet you look differently at a politician next time they get in front of a camera, with this knowledge in hand. I know I do.