Monday, November 29, 2010

START treaty--the triumph of politics over policy

I have often written that policy is suffering at the feet of politics.

The START treaty, or the failure to ratify it, may go down as the ultimate example of this. What SEC Clinton and the Obama Administration have done in negotiating this treaty has been, or should be, one of the most important things in the recent history of the United States in securing our freedom and protecting the future from nuclear annihilation.

Passage of the START treaty, however, is unsure. Not because of some grand issue with the content of the treaty, nor because of any disagreement with any particular part of it (at least, not on behalf of a majority of Senators required to pass it), but because of blatant political considerations.

You see, the Republicans, vowing to not allow a victory for Obama and his administration, did not want to vote on START. SEN Kyl, of Arizona, was the GOP's point man for negotiating the treaty and, despite his Tea Party credentials and vows to fight earmarks, gained over 80 BILLION dollars of earmarks in the START Treaty to pacify Senators from states where new projects would go. Now, after basically bending over backwards to pacify Republicans to get the votes to ratify a treaty (that is supported by EVERY living Secretary of State and which builds upon a treaty ratified in 1992 with 93 Senators voting for it), SEN Kyl is saying...

No. No vote on START. Why? Because he says there's not enough time for debate. Apparently it takes two weeks to debate START...why? There's no good reason for it other than political posturing. Republicans have successfully threatened to filibuster enough bills in Congress that during lame duck, Harry Reid will have to try to push through:
  1. START treaty (reducing nuclear arms)
  2. DREAM act (allowing for citizenship based upon military service of college)
  3. repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell
  4. extending Bush Tax Cuts (let's not kid ourselves...allowing them to expire isn't a tax increase, it's simply a return to normal, despite people claiming otherwise)
So, Reid will have to pick and choose his battles, losing one or more of the above, all of which Republicans (not en mass, but enough to gain at least 3 to avoid a filibuster) say are good policy, but would be bad politics (for them) if they passed under the Obama administration.

Can you imagine your parents acting this way? It's like a divorced couple telling their kid, "I know you need a liver transplant AND chemotherapy, but I don't want your FATHER getting I'll only support one, and he'll have to choose which. Then, when you die, I'll blame him for not getting you the other."

Yep. It's just like that folks. Politicians playing chess with our country. Only, when one of them calls "check-mate"...WE lose.


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