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This Week's Issue: Putting Country Before Party

The idea of bipartisanship has become, well, quaint. Some would say naive. President Obama and John McCain talked about it a great deal in 2008; American voters always say they want it. But as we enter the 2012 presidential race, nobody is talking about it. The parties will spend as much money as they can on demonizing each other. Governor Mitt Romney and Obama will paint each other as incompetent and out of touch. Members of Congress, meanwhile, resist any cooperation. But it doesn't have to be so. The insightful cover story by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy on how Presidents work together, putting country before party, shows bipartisanship is possible. Indeed, it exists at the very highest level--we just need it to trickle down.

The story is adapted from their forthcoming book The Presidents Club (Simon & Schuster, 641 pages) and focuses on what we sometimes refer to around here as Obama's Club--that is, his relationship with Clinton and Bushes 41 and 43. I'm not sure where Nancy and Michael found the time to report and write the book. Nancy is the deputy managing editor of TIME, and Michael is both executive editor and Washington bureau chief. But all that work only informs their judgment about the coming campaign and what it takes to be President. As they wrote, "The sheer experience of sitting in the chair binds these men across all other differences. That connection binds them all far more closely than politics or party divides them."

- Rick Stengel
TIME Managing Editor

(Photograph by Brooks Kraft/Corbis for Time)
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