Bipartisanship in the 112th: It's a START

In the flurry of lame-duck victories for President Obama and the Democrats, the ratification of the START Treaty probably tells the most important story about the coming two years. The GOP opponents of approving START insisted there wasn't enough time, though the first START in 1992 and its successor in 2003 both passed in a week or less on the Senate floor. There was ample time. And with 13 Republican senators joining the Democrats to ratify the arms-control agreement — four more than the necessary nine to reach a required 67 votes — there was ample support as well.
 
The New York Times
has a fascinating take on how the GOP has divided into two groups on national-security issues, the formers and the futures, and that beyond START, Obama's broader disarmament agenda isn't likely to go very far. Here is an excerpt:

The list of former cold warriors who supported New Start jumped out from the front pages of the cold war and the George W. Bush administration: Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz and Condoleezza Rice. George H. W. Bush, who signed the Start II treaty in 1993 with President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia, issued a brief statement of support. But some of the current powers in the party, including Republicans who may have their eyes on challenging Mr. Obama, from Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin, denounced it as a weakening of the United States, arguing that it limited missile defenses. Mr. Obama ultimately beat that argument back, pointing to his deployment plan of a series of layered missile defenses over the next decade, mostly aimed at containing the likes of nuclear aspirants, chiefly Iran. “By and large, this debate has revealed two breeds of Republicans,” said Franklin C. Miller, a hawk on nuclear issues who helped devise President George W. Bush’s nuclear strategies, but also worked for his four predecessors.

“There are those who understand the history of the cold war and the need to put verifiable controls on nuclear weapons,” he said. “And there is another school which may or may not understand the issues, but is happy to treat them as a political football.”



Besides three retiring Republican senators, the following senators bucked their leader and voted for START: Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderLawmakers pledge push for cures bill in lame-duck Overnight Regulation: Lawsuits pile up against Obama overtime rule The American people are restive, discouraged and sometimes suicidal MORE of Tennessee, Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGrassley pulling away from Dem challenger Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE of Georgia, Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE of Nebraska, Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE of Alaska, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Thad CochranThad CochranMomentum builds for Clyburn poverty plan 'Hardball' Pentagon memo creates firestorm Insiders dominate year of the outsider MORE of Mississippi, Bob CorkerBob CorkerCongress steamrolls Obama's veto Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override Cornyn: White House 'MIA' during 9/11 debate MORE of Tennessee, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Swing-state Republicans play up efforts for gun control laws Reid knocks GOP on gun 'terror loophole' after attacks MORE of Maine.
 
Obama can expect to lose numerous Democratic votes in the Senate next year — Democrats up for reelection in 2012 in Virginia, Montana, Missouri and other battlegrounds are going to side with Republicans much of the time, giving the GOP effective control. But the list of senators who voted for START are Republicans to watch, as they could provide the most likely path to bipartisanship in the Senate next year.


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