On Capitol Hill, even Christmas can get politicized. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put his colleagues on notice this week that he plans to bring up the START nuclear treaty with Russia and a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus bill that includes $8 billion of earmarks, even if it means working right up to Christmas. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has vowed to delay debate to let the next, more heavily Republican Congress decide on the issues, said it's "sacrilegious" to let politics encroach on Christmas, and his fellow conservative, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Reid was "disrespecting" Christians. Is their criticism fair — or absurd?
There is nothing sacrilegious about doing your job: "Americans nationwide are working this week and next," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. The Senate can, too. If Jim DeMint "doesn't care about monitoring Russia's long-range nuclear arsenal," he's free to vote against the New START Treaty. "But playing the Christmas Card is more than a little pathetic" — there is nothing sacrilegious about asking senators to do the work "we pay them to do."
"What Jim DeMint considers 'sacrilegious'"
Democrats are the ones shamelessly playing politics: Republicans have reason to be annoyed, says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. "There is a method to this mad rush" — Harry Reid is dumping a "mammoth spending bill" and the START Treaty in his colleagues' laps in the hope of jamming things through without "adequate consideration." If these matters are so pressing, Democrats shouldn't have wasted so much of the lame duck Congress on things the public didn't want, such as "cap-and-trade and Obamacare."
"Harry Reid has a time management problem"
Reid is in the wrong, but not because of Christmas: There are lots of "good reasons" why Republicans "should slow things down in the lame duck," says Allahpundit in Hot Air, but the notion that it's "sacrilegious" to make senators work on Christmas "is not one of them." The real reason is that "momentous decisions on foreign policy and government funding should be made by the new Congress" to reflect midterm voters' wishes. "No need to drag Santa into it."
"Reid to DeMint and Kyl: Stop whining about having to work over the holidays"
The Christian thing to do is pass the treaty: If anything is "a misuse of the Christian holiday," says the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary, National Council of Churches, as quoted in the Hartford Courant, it's using Christmas as an excuse to "delay action on a treaty aimed at reducing the threat of nuclear war." Christmas is a time when our leaders should "work harder for peace on earth" — not postpone it.
"Ratify New START, say religious leaders. Celebrate Christmas with peace"