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Livingston Sounds Conciliatory Note While Leaving Congress For Good

By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., largely silent in the two months since he shocked his colleagues by announcing plans to resign rather than stand for House Speaker, emerged Thursday to made a final plea for moderation and consensus as he ended his 21-year legislative career.

"Politician is not a dirty word, and compromise is the glue that renders democracy possible," Livingston said in his valedictory address on the House floor. "To my friends on the left: Government left unwatched can lead to injustice. To my friends on the right: Government is not inherently evil."

Livingston's conciliatory address seemed to capture the mood of a Congress that is struggling to move past impeachment and forge at least some meaningful legislative compromises. His words were also strikingly bereft of the kind of bitterness one might expect from this chief casualty of the impeachment process: Livingston resigned the same day the House impeached President Clinton last December, following his admission of his own extramarital affairs.

Indeed, in a subsequent interview Thursday afternoon, Livingston offered few regrets about his brief and tumultuous tenure as would-be successor to former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.

"I really haven't let myself dwell on any of this stuff," he said. "I've always treated politics as a gamble. When you're riding high and the dice are rolling sevens and elevens, life is good. When they come up snake eyes well, then you've got to make other decisions."

Having given up the chance to serve as the third-highest officer in the nation, Livingston is preparing to enter Washington's exclusive lobbying realm, making little pretense of his desire to make good money after years of occasional grousing about the difficulties making ends meet in Congress by opening his own company with his two top aides.