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AN UNLIKELY BACKER FOR OLD-LEFT SINGER

SHARE AN UNLIKELY BACKER FOR OLD-LEFT SINGER

At the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington last weekend, the playwright Wendy Wasserstein was struck by the sight of Alan Simpson, the conservative Republican senator from Wyoming, joining the enthusiastic standing ovation for Pete Seeger, the old-left folk singer who was one of the night's honorees.

It just goes to show that culture can transcend politics. And that Washington's ideological spectrum has shifted so far right since Nov. 8 that Simpson, who was deposed from his own party's leadership last week for the pure Gingrichite Trent Lott, may now count as a moderate. Could Simpson possibly be recruited as a leader in the coming battle to save the National Endowment for the Arts?At this moment the arts need all the unlikely friends they can get.