Wal-Mart promised to hire more veterans last Tuesday – up to 100,000 over five years – and begin a “Buy American” campaign, after years of excoriation for choosing profit over humanitarian concerns. Meanwhile, BP is allocating $500 million to improve its public image in the wake of the Deepwater disaster. White-shoe law firms, mindful of their profession’s position in the public eye, dedicate massive resources to pro bono services. Even the NBA instituted a dress code and a public service initiative when its players’ reputations began to falter.
Somehow all of these private institutions have figured out what the United States Senate, a publicly accountable institution suffering a jaw-droppingly low 18% job approval rating, cannot (or will not): Commitment to the common good matters. If the Senate takes seriously its responsibilities to the public, and if it cannot overcome its comity problem long enough to pass a funding bill or two without scaring the entire free world, the time may have come for it to demonstrate its commitment in other ways.