Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 21, 2010

NEW START CLEARS FINAL HURDLE, ON TRACK FOR RATIFICATION TOMORROW.... As recently as Sunday, the fate of the pending nuclear arms treaty, New START, was very much in doubt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved forward anyway, confident that votes would come together. He scheduled the last procedural hurdle -- overcoming a Republican filibuster -- for this afternoon.

As we learned about an hour ago, the treaty's future appears bright.

The Senate voted 67 to 28 on Tuesday to advance a new arms control treaty that would pare back American and Russian nuclear arsenals, reaching the two-thirds margin needed for approval despite a concerted Republican effort to block ratification.

Eleven Republicans joined every Democrat present to support the treaty, known as New Start, which now heads to a seemingly certain final vote of approval on Wednesday, as the Senate wraps up business before heading out of town. Voting against the treaty were 28 Republicans who argued that it could hurt national security.

The majority was 67 votes, but it would have been 69 were it not for two Democratic senators' absences -- Oregon's Ron Wyden is recovering from cancer surgery, and Indiana's Evan Bayh is on some self-congratulatory tour of his own state. A Republican, New Hampshire's Judd Gregg, had also expressed support, but for whatever reason, did not vote today. Whether they'll be on hand for the ratification vote is unclear, but if so, the final majority should be over 70 votes.

Regardless, with 67 votes today, ratification no longer appears in doubt. The 11 Republican votes came from Alexander (Tenn.), Bennett (Utah), Brown (R-Mass.), Cochran (R-Miss.) Collins (R-Maine), Corker (R-Tenn.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Lugar (R-Ind.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Snowe (R-Maine), and Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Of these, Alexander and Murkowski were the only two who had not yet expressed support for the measure before today.

The Democratic leadership indicated today that a ratification vote will likely be held tomorrow.

In the meantime, the 28 senators opposed to the treaty, all of them conservative Republicans, did not enjoy their day. At one point this morning, in a breathtaking display, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) apologized to Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who was standing nearby, because their colleagues have the audacity to overlook Kyl's incoherent and dishonest whining and bizarre habit of moving the goalposts after the White House agreed to Kyl's demands.

"To Senator Kyl," Graham said, "I want to apologize to you for the way you've been treated by your colleagues."

The nerve. Democrats voted on a pending treaty? And didn't give Kyl veto power over U.S. foreign policy? And insisted on listening to the unanimous judgment of military and diplomatic leaders, instead of the bitter tirades of a confused senator? What were they thinking?

Or as Greg Sargent put it, "Yeah, right: It's an absolute outrage that these Senators are prioritizing their own sense of what's right for the country and the world, over the influence, standing and fragile ego of a single fellow Senator."

No word yet on whether Democrats should expect an apology from Kyl for the way he treated them.

Steve Benen 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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Kyl and Graham are just par for the course, and it's the same game as Palin plays, the same as Barbour tried to play, and the same one you hear every day from privileged, well-off, Christian white people complaining bitterly about how the deck is stacked against them, how a huge leftist conspiracy is out to get them, how they never get a fair break, wah wah wah.

Really, their manfulness under all those terrible burdens is a lesson to us all...

Posted by: bleh on December 21, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

AS a resident of Arizona, I wish to apologize for Senator Kyl who not only opposes START but unemployment insurance, Medcaid, and gays.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 21, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Beyond ideology, beyond even partisanship, I think some of these GOP Senators are just looking to have their egos stroked and fluffed for as long as possible before they finally give in and vote the way they were going to all along.

Posted by: Speed on December 21, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK


Could we hear it also for McGrump?

Is Brewer waiting in the wings to replace either Kyl or McGrump?

Posted by: Ted76 on December 21, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, WTF is going on in Arizona? Kyl, McNasty, Brewer, the insane immigration law.

Posted by: Homles on December 21, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

This month was some serious comeback by Obama.

Posted by: impik on December 21, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, With Wyden gone, 66 votes are required.

Posted by: ChrisNBama on December 21, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like both Arizona AND South Carolina to apologize to the rest of us for foisting this incredibly feckless trio of senators on the country.

And thanks Kurt, for doing that.

I, in turn, would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the cretinous John Cornyn, the cowardly Kay Baily and the silly Rick Perry. (they'll no doubt do something equally offensive before the week is out)

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 21, 2010 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

As an old native Arizonan, I can vaguely recall when politics in this state wasn't so harshly rightwing. Demographically, this state isn't that different from California. I think the difference is best explained by Arizona's one-dimensional economy that attracts relatively few creative-class workers. Right now, we're caught in vortex we can't escape. Every rightwing failure seems to up the ante to get even more draconian. Reality testing rightwing "solutions" isn't an option since they eschew reality anyway. Curiously, it wasn't that long ago when both Kyl and McCain were supporting comprehensive immigration reform. When the economy crashed, so did Arizona's last vestiges of pragmatism. Our hard right turn is predicated on oversimplification and demogoguery. Kyl and McCain are happy to climb aboard that train.

Posted by: walt on December 21, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Seriously, WTF is going on in Arizona?"

Some guesses: Very high percentage of retirees, who vote by the busload. Lots of golf courses in the desert. Lots of rural rancher types too. Lots of Latino immigrants and otherwise, who don't vote as consistently, but are visible enough to really peg the crank-o-meter for the aforementioned whites.

Anything else?

Posted by: flubber on December 21, 2010 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

evan bayh always was, is now, and will forever be an ass.
and it's nice to see that my new IL senator continues to be a fairly reliable "yessir, whatever you want, sir" for yertle mcturtle.

Posted by: mellowjohn on December 21, 2010 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Graham, "Mr Gang of 14," is opposed to the START treaty you know it is really a dog's breakfast.

Posted by: Mike K on December 21, 2010 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Does the new START actually have the flaws claimed at http://www.facebook.com/Sen.JohnCornyn/posts/132145243512450 by John Cornyn, which I reproduce with misspellings as is:

John Cornyn
I will vote agains the START treaty: 1) no limit on Russian tactical nukes; 2) inadequate verification proceedures; 3) ambiguity about constraints on missle defense
5 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Comment

Posted by: Neil B on December 21, 2010 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK



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