Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 20, 2010

LUGAR TO GOP: 'PLEASE DO YOUR DUTY FOR YOUR COUNTRY'.... The pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START, has no greater Republican champion than Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana. Lugar, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been Congress' most respected and most credible GOP voice on international affairs, and his unyielding support for the measure should carry considerable weight in Republican circles.

What I find especially interesting this week, however, has been Lugar's willingness to raise the volume of that voice. On Wednesday, the mild-mannered-to-a-fault senator appeared at a press conference alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and was surprisingly animated about the importance of ratification.

Yesterday, Lugar appeared on MSNBC, and again made his case in a more forceful way than is usually expected of him.

"Please do your duty for your country," Lugar said in a message to his colleagues. "We do not have verification of the Russian nuclear posture right now. We're not going to have it until we sign the START treaty. We're not going to be able to get rid of further missiles and warheads aimed at us.

"I state it candidly to my colleagues, one of those warheads ... could demolish my city of Indianapolis -- obliterate it! Now Americans may have forgotten that. I've not forgotten it and I think that most people who are concentrating on the START treaty want to move ahead to move down the ladder of the number of weapons aimed at us."

Urging Republicans to "do their duty" for their country is good advice. If only they weren't so inclined to place party over patriotism.

Watching Lugar this week, it seems the quiet, reserved senior senator is just frustrated. I don't know Lugar personally, but seeing his passion on New START, I wouldn't be surprised if he's noticing that he seems to be the only Republican senator on the Hill who isn't afraid to put our national security needs over petty, partisan nonsense.

For the record, on the vast majority of the major issues of the day, I completely disagree with Lugar's positions. The way in which he's conducted himself during this debate, however, is a reminder that Lugar may be well to my right, but he tends to conduct himself in an honorable way.

Congress would be a less infuriating institution if we could say the same about his Republican colleagues.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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Lugar is probably the last sane republican left in the party. I mean, seriously, if you can't get behind this treaty, you're fucking crazy.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 20, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

That poor, poor, lonely man.
It must like being the lone guard at the insane asylum in the dead of night.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

What's depressing, as has been pointed out by other bloggers, is that this is such a minor issue in terms of political opposition while being such a major issue in terms of real world impact- possibly the lowest ratio of any current debate. Maybe 10 votes out of 100 million will be affected by whether Obama "won" by overcoming Republican opposition on this. If the Republicans had just shut their holes no one would have even considered it a point worth debating, it's such a no-brainer to support. Sadly a lot of Republican senators have no brain.

Posted by: SP on November 20, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

but he tends to conduct himself in an honorable way.

Baloney! He is part of the unanimous vote against everything that doesn't help his party. I suspect this is just more Arlen-speak. Wait for a vote, and see what excuse he came up with for accepting campaign donations and voting against the treaty.

Posted by: Danp on November 20, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

He needs to come up with a black, brown, Muslim or debt spin to it. Then they'll come out of the woodwork to get all pissy about it.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on November 20, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

"He is part of the unanimous vote against everything that doesn't help his party."

Yes, he is. However, he has always (to my knowledge) fought for the good of the country regarding national defense, and I believe he is doing that now.

It is truly sad to watch as he flails away to try to get a few of the "assholes of the planet" to put their country before their hatred of the Black pres.

I'm talking about YOU - John McCain!

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 20, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with danp -- honor, shmonor. He's a hard-core right-wing whore like the rest of them, only he's got this "serious statesman" shtick going that his constituents seem to like. But if he saw any political advantage in dumping START -- or any other objectively intelligent effort on the part of a Democratic president -- he'd do it in a heartbeat. After all, he doesn't pay any price at all for voting with the rest of 'em.

He probably thinks something like this could make him an attractive VP candidate, to soften the image of some lunatic rightist at the top of the ticket. Palin-Lugar, or Gingrich-Lugar, or some such, vs. a Romney-Teabagger ticket.

But please, try not to sound like someone from Indiana who's been bamboozled by all that white hair and seeming earnestness. He's a liar and a whore -- and a nasty right-wing one to boot.

Posted by: bleh on November 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

GOOD luck with that Dick. You have been silent al along while your Peers and their rabid dogs have been tearing apart the country, demanding cancellation of unemployment insurance, and doing their best to pander to the über rich and NOW you want to reign them in when YOU have given them a free pass on everything they have done?

Like undisciplined dogs, why should they listen to you at this point? You have been with them all along and have let them run things, so unless you have a strong blackjack to hit Kyl with, I would expect your pleas to fail.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 20, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party now has a real rogue in the U.S. Senate, Richard Lugar. Who knew.

Posted by: max on November 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

"...his unyielding support for the measure should carry considerable weight in Republican circles."
but won't.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

The Congressional Republicans have made it abundantly clear that their number one priority, their main reason for existing, is the same as it has been since the 2008 election -- do whatever is necessary to stall, block, or neuter each and every program, policy, and legislative goal of the White House and the Democrats in Congress.

Their main objective continues to be to undermine the success of the Obama Administration, even if it negatively impacts the economic welfare of the public and puts at risk the security of the nation.

Posted by: labman57 on November 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Limiting nuclear proliferation has long been Lugar's particular "niche". He's even worked on it with Obama, when Obama was still a Senator. He may well think of the success here as his own contribution to the world peace and/or as his "legacy", so it's not surprising that he's for it. What's surprising is that he's *still* for it, instead of having caved in to the pressures from Limpballs, Beck and the rest of the "Party Leaders".

Posted by: exlibra on November 20, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Lugar is most probably lock-step in agreement with his party on many issues whether it be for political expediency or by personal preference. But I will not lambaste him for taking a strong public stance for the START treaty just because of his other votes. I, too, will be watching to see if his vote on this issue backs up his public statements. If it does, I will grant him the respect due to anyone who works for nuclear limitations and for the real protection of this country.

I lived half my life in Indiana (in Indianapolis, in the same middle-class neighborhood that Lugar and his family lived) and half my life in Southern California. I have never voted for a Republican in my life, including Lugar. But on this issue, I am inclined to believe that the Senator is speaking from a position much higher than for political expediency. He is revered in Indiana, and will never lose an election. At 78, he has few political ambitions left, at least in my view. This is not a Lugar lovefest, but I will give him this one.

Posted by: Chris C on November 21, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK



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