Ron Elving

American politics have always been rife with individuals who invoked the Almighty and sought divine leverage to achieve their own agendas.

Partisans on both the right and the left have revered such figures – when they agreed with their ends – and reviled them when they did not.

But it is hard to think of any clergy in any era who have ascended quite so far in the national political consciousness as Billy Graham.

President Trump's first State of the Union address was billed as a bid for unity, a call for all to rise above party and faction in pursuit of national ideas and ideals.

In fact, scattered throughout the 80-minute speech were several moments that might qualify as outreach. But if you blinked, you might have missed them.

Recent FBI investigations relevant to the 2016 presidential election have become the latest battleground in our deeply divided and partisan politics.

Some Republicans, disappointed by the lack of charges over Hillary Clinton's emails and distressed by the continuing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, suddenly perceive corruption in the FBI. Democrats counter that the casting of doubt on the nation's top national law enforcement agency is an unprecedented outrage.

Ask Republicans about Democrats, or vice versa, and sooner or later you will hear: "They're out of touch with the American people."

That statement was part of the soundtrack on Capitol Hill over the first weekend of the partial government shutdown, repeated so often that one ceases to hear it.

It's an all-purpose way of condemning the hated "other" party. And it conveys the assumption that whoever is speaking is not out of touch with the American people.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Travel back in time with me for a moment to 1981, the government shutdown. Two-hundred-forty-one-thousand federal employees were furloughed, and this is what it sounded like when you called the White House switchboard.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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