Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Arizona's twin embarrassments, "Senator Obstruction," Jon Kyl, and "Senator McNasty," John McCain, each led the fight against a major initiative of the Obama administration: Kyl waged an incoherent partisan attack against ratification of the New START Treaty, and McCain waged a demagogic attack against the conditional repal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). Both initiatives enjoyed broad public support, demonstrating just how out of touch and reactionary our embarrassing senators are.
Greg Sargent wrote at the Plum Line yesterday that it is "hard to overstate what a massive rebuke" that ratification of the New START Treaty would represent, "particularly for McCain, who just suffered another major, high-profile defeat with the repeal of don't ask, don't tell (DADT)." And today, The Plum Line:
As Peter Baker notes this morning, the victory amounts to the lame-duck session's "clearest assertion of his authority in the face of an emboldened Republican Party." Along with the tax deal and DADT repeal, his START victory sends a clear message to media and Congressional elites that Obama has not been crippled by the midterm election results, leaving him on a firmer footing heading into next year than he otherwise might have enjoyed. After the 1994 debacle, the elites smelled Clinton's blood in the water. Obama has left them scrambling to explain his resilience.
The Republican leadership's single-minded goal to destroy this president by denying him legislative victories sowed the seeds of their own defeat. There were still a few Republicans — just a few — who understood that with power comes responsibility to govern, and that these were good bills supported by the American people. They rejected the "party before country" partisanship of the Republican leadership and broke ranks.
Steve Benen today at The Washington Monthly has this insightful analysis:
As expected, the Senate approved New START this afternoon by a wide margin. With the process coming to an end, it's worth pausing to appreciate the larger context, and the extent to which far-right Republicans screwed this up.
By any reasonable measure, this is a major victory for President Obama, who made little secret of the fact he considered the treaty his top priority for the lame-duck session.
But let's not forget that Republican opponents of New START, following an incoherent strategy, ended up making this an even bigger win for Obama than it otherwise would have been. Adam Serwer had a great item on this yesterday, which rings true.
Early in the Obama administration, Senate Republicans settled on a strategy of total procedural obstruction…. The problem is, the New START treaty is about as controversial as a tuna salad sandwich. Not only has the current military leadership and every living Republican Secretary of State endorsed it, but former Republican national security stalwarts such as Brent Scowcroft are "baffled" by the GOP's decision to obstruct ratification. New START is also popular — a CNN poll from November shows three quarters of Americans support ratifying the treaty.
If New START is ratified, the only reason it'll be considered an Obama victory is because Republicans decided to oppose it without any real reason for doing so. If the Senate had simply ratified the treaty without any fuss, Obama might have gotten a few days of positive press, but it wouldn't have been treated as a major political success. Because Senate Republicans turned ratification into a huge partisan brawl, a Democratic president renewing an agreement with Russia designed by Republican presidents now looks like a massive victory for the administration.
Exactly. New START, which could have very well been negotiated by Reagan himself, builds on the kind of counter-proliferation policy that's enjoyed broad international support for a generation. Had Republicans treated this the way previous Senates had — which is to say, ratified it fairly quickly with overwhelming support — the political world have barely have blinked an eye.
But Republicans instead decided to turn this into a defining presidential test, and a challenge to Obama's mettle as a world leader. Left with no choice, Obama fought back as hard as he could, rallying support from the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs, foreign leaders from around the globe, eight former secretaries of state from both parties, five former secretaries of defense from both parties, seven former Strategic Command chiefs, national security advisers from both parties, nearly all former commanders of U.S. nuclear forces — even a former Republican president (H.W. Bush). The president put the full weight of his administration behind this, to ensure success.
And it worked. The result is a victory for the White House that's even more significant than if the GOP hadn't needlessly picked a misguided fight.
As Fred Kaplan noted yesterday, "[T]he Republican leadership made this a purely political battle and — fresh off what had seemed a triumphant election season — suffered an astonishingly egregious defeat."
President Obama is ending 2010 on a winning streak, looking stronger than at any point in quite some time.
To be certain, Senator Obstruction did have some "victories" (sic) in this lame duck session: he successfully extorted from Democrats an extension of tax cuts for the über-rich and he got his "Paris Hilton Amendment" to the estate tax. And both Kyl and McCain demagogued the omnibus spending bill, forcing a continuing resolution for funding the government until next March (which does not include funding for implementation of new health care reforms, Wall Street reforms, and the Food Safety Modernization Act). A handful of Democrats share the blame with Republicans for defeating the DREAM Act, which should have passed.