Mitch McConnell practically admits that he is opposing the treaty just so that he will not hand another legislative victory to President Obama. Here is the quote: "No senator should be forced to make decisions like this so we can tick off another item on someone's political checklist before the end of the year." Really, is that a good enough reason not to take action that would enhance national security? A number of senators are upset that the treaty is being rushed through the closing days of the lame duck session. Well, whose fault is that? Maybe if the Republicans had not filibustered every single major piece of legislation during this Congress, and a lot of minor ones as well, this important treaty could have been dealt with sooner.
As far as substance, however, we haven't heard a single respectable critique of the treaty, and practically every expert on the subject, Republican or Democrat, has emphasized its critical importance. Brent Scowcroft, for example, certainly no softie when it comes to dealing with the Russians, said that Republican opposition to this treaty is "baffling."
“It doesn’t tie our hands on missile defense,as the president has already demonstrated; we’re moving ahead on missile defense on Europe. There are things in the treaty people don’t like, but right now we have no oversight over what Russians are doing inside with their own nuclear systems . . . . This would restore that, so we can carry forward all the accounting, the rules, the assurances, the inspections -- all the things giving us the confidence to go ahead. Without those it seems to me we’re absolutely nowhere.”Finally, for those who still think the Democratic Majority Leader shies away from bold or controversial statements, here is what Harry Reid said about new START yesterday: "Soon this will come down to a simple choice: you either want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, or you don’t." It's time for enough Republican Senators to stop playing politics with this issue, and get it done.
(poster from Son of the South)
UPDATE (12/22/10): Common sense prevails over politics as usual, and new START is ratified with four votes to spare, 71-26!