Bipartisanship on the White House menu

May 3, 2011

At a White House dinner with Senate and House leaders from both parties and their spouses, President Barack Obama got a standing ovation when he mentioned the demise of Osama bin Laden in his welcome.

“Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of  Osama bin Laden…” Obama said.

At that point, he was interrupted by the standing ovation.

“We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama continued after the applause subsided.

The Monday evening dinner had been on the books for a few weeks, but Obama said it could not have come at a more fitting time.

A day earlier, he had announced that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. assault on a  compound in Pakistan — ending a nearly decade-long manhunt.

Word that the hunt for the man behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was over — and that he was gone —  brought Americans together in celebrations across the country.

That sense of oneness did not go unnoticed at the White House, where dozens of Republicans and Democrats and Cabinet members and other administration officials were  gathered for an  evening of bipartisan socializing.

“I know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years,” Obama said. “And I have no illusions about the difficulties and the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in, in the weeks and months to come.”

But he expressed hope that unity could be “harnessed” to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

We’ll see.


PHOTO CREDITS:  REUTERS/Jason Reed (Obama sits between House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid;  Obama shakes hands with Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell; Boehner with  Reid; House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan)

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