One lesson of Washington’s non-panic over the imminent shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security: the 9/11 era is over.
Set your Hot Tub Time Machine back a decade and this week’s political brinksmanship is unthinkable: Congress would sooner cut funding to the Puppies for Veteran Grandmothers program than to the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans won the 2002 election simply by arguing that Democrats, who initially came up with the (terrible) plan to create the DHS, didn’t support their own idea fervently enough. In the 9/11 era, any federal program that so much as brushed against national security was sacrosanct.
A decade later, Republicans angry over President Obama’s immigration actions decided to retaliate by holding all DHS funding hostage. And now that we’re days away from Congress actually cutting off funding for the Department of Homeland Security, there’s little alarm in Washington. That’s true even though the terror group Al-Shabaab is threatening to launch attacks against American malls.
Imagine reading those last two sentences in 2004. Imagine how strange they would sound.