Politico bemoans the post-bin Laden "politics as usual" atmosphere on Capitol Hill:

Capitol Hill was awash in unity Monday in the immediate aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing.
But unlike the post-Sept. 11 environment, the feel-good moment might not survive even the next 24-hour news cycle.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday afternoon that his chamber will quickly move on to a repeal of subsidies for oil companies. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday will unveil a mostly partisan jobs agenda. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has every intention of sticking with this week’s floor agenda to increase oil drilling and further roll back the Democratic health care law.

The failure of congressional leaders to alter their agendas even in the aftermath of the most significant achievement in the 10-year war on terror is the clearest sign yet that the two parties on Capitol Hill have concluded that the economy and the budget — not foreign policy matters — will still determine next year’s election. But by snapping so quickly back to partisan warfare when the rest of the country is still waving flags and celebrating, Congress also risks showing, once again, why voters have such a low opinion of Capitol Hill.

Color me glad. The operation to kill Osama bin Laden was impressive, and his death is an important milestone for the United States. But a world without bin Laden is still a world where liberals and conservatives disagree on the fundamentals of the welfare state, the justice of taxation, and particulars of redistribution. In other words, Bin Laden or not, Harry Reid still needs to lead his party, Mitch McConnell still needs to maintain his caucus, and John Boehner still needs to satisfy his constituents.

I didn't have a problem with the impromptu celebrations of bin Laden's death on Sunday; a whole generation of adults grew up in the age of terror, as personified by Osama bin Laden. His demise signifies the end of a particular era for these twentysomethings, even if it doesn't result in concrete policy change. I can understand if they want to celebrate.

By contrast, I'm baffled -- and a little troubled -- by this apparent hostility toward democratic action. The job of Congress isn't to subsume itself in the glory of state violence, it's to pass legislation and represent diverse interests. National emergencies notwithstanding, the immediate, post-bin Laden return to partisan bickering is appropriate, given the body's job description. That Politico is disturbed by this is a nice illustration of the Beltway's instinctive disdain for the "messiness" of democracy.

You may also like