The question came completely out of nowhere, and caught me unsuspecting and unprepared. Having a bit of lunch, and grazing on daytime cable news I was confronted with a segment, prefaced with an introduction along the lines that, “now that we have killed bin Laden” bearing the title (drum roll here) “What’s Next?”
I’m embarrassed to say, though I wish to be completely honest, that my initial response was, “Uh…I don’t know.” I believe the premise of the disquisition that followed, offered by the guest to the host was, in effect, that killing bin Laden was a big, really big deal, but that we’ve had our fun now and it’s time to get back to the rest of our lives. “Well,” I thought to myself, “I’m eating lunch, what else do you want exactly?”
As an inveterate procrastinator I admit, I’m a little irritated that someone is telling me I have to decide right away. Didn’t we just wax the dude like, Sunday? How about if I just say, “Tomorrow’s another day” and see where that will get me.
I’m extremely, extremely suspicious that the question posed had a great deal more to do with television than with actual life. In other words, and I’m only speculating here, many Americans, rather than feeling any urgency in the matter of anticipating the near future, whether in terms of foreign policy, national security, terrorism or the American psyche, are still in the process of savoring the news that Osama is really good and dead. I want to say to the television host, “You know, this isn’t Mardis Gras, and the partying doesn’t have an expiration date, pal.”
Ashamed as I am of my cynicism, I’m afraid I cannot remain silent in my belief that the question posed as one for us, “What’s Next?” was actually a question television news, and cable news in particular was nervously asking itself: “What the hell are we going to do now? Since we’ve got all the initial pop we can out of this phase of the Big Story, what in the bejesus can we follow it with? We’re staring into the abyss of the anti-climatic here.”
But thanks for asking. When it comes to the existential questions about life in the aftermath of the extinguishment of Osama bin Laden, I happen to know exactly what is next. Yet because of the impertinence of asking me for my answer prematurely, I’m keeping it to myself purely out of spite.