Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2010

GEORGE H.W. BUSH BACKS NEW START.... Two weeks ago, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has not yet said whether she'll support ratification of the pending arms control treaty, New START, urged a GOP elder statesman to weigh in.

"It would be wonderful if President [George H.W.] Bush would come out for the treaty," Collins said. "That would be so powerful and definitely help."

With that in mind, here's hoping Collins and at least eight other Republican senators consider yesterday's announcement powerful and helpful.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who signed and won Senate approval of the original Start arms control treaty with the Soviet Union in 1991, endorsed the proposed follow-up treaty with Russia on Wednesday, lending another well-known Republican voice to the White House campaign for approval.

"I urge the United States Senate to ratify the Start treaty," Mr. Bush said in a one-line statement that offered no elaboration. His spokesman, Jim Appleby, said by telephone that the former president would let his position stand at that and would not discuss whether the White House solicited the endorsement.

This is a good move by the former president, and I'm glad he took it. Bush pere doesn't weigh in on policy debates often, so his statement yesterday should carry a little additional weight.

That said, it really shouldn't be necessary. When an arms treaty receives the strong backing of eight former secretaries of state from both parties, five former secretaries of defense from both parties, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several of his predecessors, seven former Strategic Command chiefs, national security advisers from both parties, and nearly all former commanders of U.S. nuclear forces, it sends a pretty clear signal.

If a senator is inclined to ignore their collective judgment, I'm not sure an endorsement from a former president is going to tip the scales in the other direction.

Still, if Collins was on the fence, yesterday's statement from Bush should put her in the "yes" category. To ratify the treaty this month, Democrats will need nine Republican votes. Whether they're in place or not remains to be seen.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

What are the odds that she'll just move the goal post?

Posted by: Rick on December 9, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

START is merely a hostage to tax cuts for the wealthy. Susan Collins' MO should be fairly apparent by now: wring hands, make irrelevant demands, indicate support, then do whatever Mitch McConnell tells her to. Drowning the government in a bathtub is not that easy. Waterboarding it with fake-outs and sideshows is the best they can do at the moment.

Posted by: walt on December 9, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Closing the Kennebunkport compound would affect Maine, how?

No more High Tea with Barbara, perhaps?

Posted by: berttheclock on December 9, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'll second Rick. She "really wants" to move forward on START, but unfortunately there's just not enough time allotted for debate on the defense authorization bill...

There was a time when high-level accords on nuclear fucking arsenals were treated seriously by American politicians. Do they know that the rest of the world is staring slackjawed at this idiocy?

Posted by: jonas on December 9, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

"That said, it really shouldn't be necessary."

No kidding. But the reasons Republicans are not supporting this treaty have absolutely nothing to do with "reason"!

Posted by: Mark-NC on December 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

This will be just like DADT.
Like McCain, who doesn't want that repealed as long as he can find ONE single Marine who's against it, the Republicans will find some flunkie for the Under Secretary to the Under-under Secretary for Maintaining Native Amemrican Relations, or some other completely unrelated department who thinks START isn't the greatest idea since the internet.
BINGO! No START. Just the usual STOP!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Was poor Susan asleep the last 50 years when women began to show their teeth and actually made decisions for themselves? She needs a stamp of approval from "Big Daddy"? God, Susan, throw in the towel if it's that hard.

Posted by: ML on December 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Collins is dumb as a post. She votes for this and she'll lose a primary to someone worse. Great state of the nation.

Posted by: T2 on December 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Still, if Collins was on the fence, yesterday's statement from Bush should put her in the "yes" category.

Collins still needs to get an endorsement from Reagan before she can be sure that it is something he would have done.

Posted by: Shalimar on December 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

So where is Condeleeza Rice on the Start treaty? She's the one recent Secretary of State who hasn't been heard from--and this is the area where she had her original expertise.

Is this evidence of her moral cowardice or does she have a good explanation for not speaking out?

Posted by: DRF on December 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Rice endorsed the START treaty a couple of days ago.

The current Republican party is crazy, even by past republican standards. Their political interests supersede everything, including national security.

Posted by: Holmes on December 9, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Rational thinking for the good of country and national interests by Republicans?

On what world? In what reality?

Posted by: Darsan54 on December 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

This is just Collins being Collins.

Tomorrow: "It would be wonderful if Winston Churchill would rise from the dead and come out for the treaty. That would be so powerful and definitely help."

Posted by: Mike on December 9, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

What's with the edit? I thought Collins said "President Bush"-- she didn't specify H.W. Bush. I just assumed she was talking about the one Republicans actually like.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on December 9, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

@DRF, Condi wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal on December 7th, where she called for passage of START.

Posted by: berttheclock on December 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of a colleague who will solicit my advice on projects and then run around and ask for second opinions before he'll follow my advice. Maddening.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 9, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

In earlier, more rational times, a real journalist would have gone after Collins and really nailed her to the wall on this bullshit.

Those days are gone for now.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Look, before we go pinning a medal on W., let's note that his endorsement is no more than any other ex-president customarily does in these situations, and in its terse, weaselly, one-liner, late form, quite a bit less.

Posted by: beejeez on December 9, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that she'll just move the goal post?
Posted by: Rick

Move goal posts? Never.
No, no, sorry, she just meant the other Pres. Bush

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, just noticed it was H.W. Well, the sentiment stands. No surprise W. has sat this one out so far.

Posted by: beejeez on December 9, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK
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