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Posted at 5:33 PM ET, 12/22/2010

What the START vote says about the next Congress

By E.J. Dionne

The ratification of the New START treaty was a victory for common sense and the national interest. It was a defeat for a particularly acidic form of partisanship. Are there lessons for the future in how the treaty's ratification was achieved?

President Obama was unambiguous about the importance of this issue to him and relentless in both personal diplomacy with members of the Senate and in gathering impressive outside support. The endorsement of the treaty by secretaries of state of the past five Republican administrations was critical. It made it easier for Republican senators to vote yes, and it undercut the rationale for opposing the treaty offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and his allies. Perhaps Obama's approach here can't work on every issue, but his uncompromising clarity, his willingness to lay his credibility on the line and his full-court press in bringing in outside partners could serve him well on other issues.

He also had in Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a champion who did everything right when it came to managing the process. All of Kerry's best traits were on display here: his relentless work ethic, his methodical approach to directing the hearings on the treaty and the quiet passion he brings to the cause of arms control. Democrats would do well to figure out similarly appropriate matches of senators and House members to particular issues.

And maybe, just maybe, the list of Republicans willing to join with the Democratic majority on this question provides a roster for potential moderate and moderate-conservative allies on other matters in the next Congress. Ten of the 13 Republican senators who voted yes will be back next year: Lamar Alexander, Scott Brown, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski and Olympia Snowe. I am under no illusions that it will be easy for Republican senators to escape the ferocious pressure to stick with their party. But having declared their independence this time, perhaps it will be a bit easier the next.

And let no one be in doubt that while treaties in the past have often been ratified by larger margins, the 71 votes START earned was an absolute landslide by current standards. Kerry said it best: "I would say to you that in today's Washington, in today's Senate, 70 votes is yesterday's 95."

Indeed, and unless it's a vote for more tax cuts, Democrats will be lucky to get that many votes on anything next year.

By E.J. Dionne  | December 22, 2010; 5:33 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

Dionne posts a love letter to John Kerry just before Christmas. Gag! And these liberals are still wondering why they lost it all last month. Can't wait until 2012 to get the rest of these clowns out of there and start cleaning up the mess that Obama and his cronies have created as they've attempted to destroy this country.

Posted by: oldno7 | December 22, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait until 2012 to get the rest of these clowns out of there and start cleaning up the mess that Obama and his cronies have created as they've attempted to destroy this country.

Posted by: oldno7 | December 22, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse


Exactly what mess do you refer to? And can you tell me how it's on Obama and not Bush. BTW, when Obama took office we were shedding 700,000 jobs EVERY MONTH. Now we have slow job growth.

Please tell me about this mess that the Republicans are going to clean up.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 22, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Re: oldno7's comment--sounds like sour grapes to me. Funny how what you consider a mess-- in the case of START--was voted on by 13 Republican Senators (thank you, thank you for defying your leader!) and has resulted in a safer, saner world for all.

Posted by: moiraeve1 | December 22, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Sorry EJ Kerry is an idiot living off of someone elses trust fund wealth. Also the Republicans are the opposition party and they are supposed to oppose anything that the majority of their constituents oppose. The left will do the same thing when the Republicans are in control so quit whining you little bit#$%s. The left is finished because the so called winners who survived the massive defeat of 2010 are the real hard core left mothe##$$@rs and American will not embrace what they have to offer.

Posted by: DCalle10411111 | December 22, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Again the far right shows no grasp of any issue other than raised Earth. They would rather let the human race get atomized rather than let sanity rule under a democratic president. Thats just bloodlust....

Posted by: brandonesque | December 22, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

If DCalle thinks his comments are a thoughtful and reasonable analysis you can understand why the Republicans are finished. At least the ones that share his hysteria and complete disregard for the best interests of our country. The right-wing extremists will dig their own graves with the shortsighted and ideologically driven policies that we have had to deal with for years. Do you self-styled patriots really think its a good idea to not monitor nuclear materials in countries where security is haphazard at best? Or to milk 9-11 emotions for nine years while refusing medical treatment to the heroes who risked their lives in the twin towers?
The most egregious of these Republican attack dogs in both the House and Senate have made their careers appealing to the worst instincts of their redneck constituents. History will treat them with the same scorn that their predecessors so richly earned. We have a fresh crop of Senator Bilbos in the public arena and we're all the worse for it.

Posted by: tkmullikin | December 22, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

oldno7 asks:

(Posted by: oldno7 | December 22, 2010 6:54 PM)

Exactly what mess do you refer to? ... Please tell me about this mess that the Republicans are going to clean up.
-----

When Pelosi and Reid (and Obama in the Senate) took over Congress in Jan 2007, after 12 years of Republican leadership, unemployment was at 4%, the Dow was at a record high, and we had had 54 straight months of economic growth.

The recession started in late 2007, nearly a year after the Democrat Congress took power. The Dow is down 40% from when Pelosi/Reid/Obama took over. The Republican Congress had 4 budget surplus years, and left in 2006, with the Dow at a record high, unemployment sub 4%, deficits were moderate and trending down after 52 straight months of economic growth.

100% of the recession, 100% of the stock market drop, 100% of skyrocketing unemployment, 100% of the bailouts, the crash of the Frank/Dodd financial system, a 40% growth in government spending, and $3.8 trillion of new deficit debt belongs to this Democrat Congress.

Republican Congress average annual deficit: $105 billion (1996-2007)
Democrat congress average annual deficit: $1.305 trillion (2008-2010)

Twelve years of record prosperity with the Republican Congress.
Three years of failure, misery, fiscal insanity, and ruin under Pelosi/Reid/Obama

QED

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: mikem1 | December 22, 2010 7:18 PM |

BTW, when Obama took office we were shedding 700,000 jobs EVERY MONTH.
-----

Mikem1, please advise a source for your claim of 750,000 jobs lost per month. I have seen than number quoted by many moonbats such as yourself, but never a source to back it up. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows total jobs lost in 2008 as 2.6 million; an average of 217,000 per month. The actual losses per month were: Jan-72,000, Feb-144,000, March-122,000, April-160,000, May-137,000, June-161,000, July-128,000, Aug-175,000, Sept-321,000, Oct-380,000, Nov-597,000, Dec-577,000. If you have a credible source to support your claim of 750,000 jobs lost per month, would be interested in seeing it.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Re g0tha: I don't have all the 'facts' as you do, but a few questions: What law was it that the Democratic congress pass and Bush signed that ruin the economy and raised the deficit? Remember association doesn't equate cause. Next, in your surplus analysis, did you consider the war costs that were 'off budget' because they were emergency spending and were never counted as an unpaid for expense? Did you consider the drug bill passed by the reupblican congress, and unpaid for, when you did your syrplus analysis? Seems a little dishonest to me. Did the Bush tax cuts change a surplus to a deficit? Was 700 billion dollar Tarp fund passed ASAP at the insistance of the Bush Administration? Did the Bush or Obama administration give 350 billion to the Banks with no strings attached? Maybe a little more honesty and objective analysis on your part would be helpful.

Posted by: mg11231 | December 23, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Hey g0tcha, do you know what GOP stands for? Guilty of Perjury - just like you.

Posted by: teej55 | December 23, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey mg11231, good to hear from you.
My facts are honest and objective - you just don't like them.

But you raise several other good questions.
--
What law was it that the Democratic congress pass and Bush signed that ruin the economy and raised the deficit?
--
No law. It was cheap, plentiful money the banks borrowed from The Fed to underwrite bad real estate deals. Consumers over paid for real estate and are now working off that overpayment.
--
In your surplus analysis, did you consider the war costs that were 'off budget' because they were emergency spending and were never counted as an unpaid for expense?
--
Good point. It was outrageous accounting and the Republicans, among others, are to blame for not controlling other expenses - and raising addition funds - to pay for the war. It was a fiscal irresponsibility. Like you, I wish they could be punished more severely than just losing their jobs.
--
Did you consider the drug bill passed by the reupblican congress, and unpaid for, when you did your syrplus analysis?
--
Are you say that the drug bill should not have been passed? I think a significant number of senior citizens will come knocking on your door to tell you how wrong you are. Are you saying that every time Congress spends money they must corresponding directly pay for the expenditure? Sounds like a good idea to me. I support your position.
--
Did the Bush tax cuts change a surplus to a deficit?
--
No. The defitic was caused a decline in tax revenues from a shrinking economy. If the tax custs were not in place, the middle class - the main beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts - would have had less money to spend during the economic contraction.
--
Was 700 billion dollar Tarp fund passed ASAP at the insistance of the Bush Administration?
--
Yes. We were frightened into submission. The Dems and Reps woho caved into Goldman Sachs now justify their vote by saying "It could have been worse if we hadn't given Goldman Sachs what they demanded. Like, you, I think we were flim flammed.
--
Did the Bush or Obama administration give 350 billion to the Banks with no strings attached?
--
Yup - it was criminal
--
Maybe a little more honesty and objective analysis on your part would be helpful.
--
OK, mg11231, where am I dishonest or unobjective?

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: teej55 | December 23, 2010 7:58

Hey g0tcha, do you know what GOP stands for? Guilty of Perjury - just like you.
--
Go for it teej55 - make your case.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

"100% of the recession, 100% of the stock market drop, 100% of skyrocketing unemployment, 100% of the bailouts, the crash of the Frank/Dodd financial system, a 40% growth in government spending, and $3.8 trillion of new deficit debt belongs to this Democrat Congress."

There's no sense arguing with dogmatics who make stuff up.

Posted by: teej55 | December 23, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: teej55 | December 23, 2010 7:58

There's no sense arguing with dogmatics who make stuff up.
---
Prove I'm wrong, if you can.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

gOtcha: Lets look at some things you wrote:

1. You seem to make the argument that the Fed was to blame for the collapse of the economy and you then want to pin that on Democrats. Greenspan who led the Fed was a "free market" guru who was nominted by a Republican Presidents and confirmed by a Republican Congress. Greenspan's constantly did not see a problem with a "housing bubble" and felt that the "rational" market would solve all problems.
2. Were you screaming at Bush and the Republican Congress as they ran up the defecit with war costs that were not included in the Budget? Did you argue that the Republican President and Congress were bankrupting our Country? Because if you had, you might have been called "unAmerican" for questioning President Bush during a war, because that is what happened to anyone who questioned Bush.
3. You do realize that the Health Care Bill passed by the Democrats is not only PAID for but will actually reduce the defecit. (See the Congressional Budget Office if you don't believe me). So yes the Democrats did do more to help not only Seniors but all Americans to have access to Health Care and Democrats DID pay for it.
4. You do realize that the 700 billion paid for TARP is now reduced to 25 billion. Most financial and economic experts, liberal to conservative, agree that without TARP our entire financial system would have collapsed. It is difficult to argue what "could of happened" but I wear my seatbelt just in case too.
5. Your dishonesty and unobjectivity... see above.

Posted by: smith6 | December 23, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

oldno7 asks:

(Posted by: oldno7 | December 22, 2010 6:54 PM)

Exactly what mess do you refer to? ... Please tell me about this mess that the Republicans are going to clean up.
-----

When Pelosi and Reid (and Obama in the Senate) took over Congress in Jan 2007, after 12 years of Republican leadership, unemployment was at 4%, the Dow was at a record high, and we had had 54 straight months of economic growth.

The recession started in late 2007, nearly a year after the Democrat Congress took power. The Dow is down 40% from when Pelosi/Reid/Obama took over. The Republican Congress had 4 budget surplus years, and left in 2006, with the Dow at a record high, unemployment sub 4%, deficits were moderate and trending down after 52 straight months of economic growth.

100% of the recession, 100% of the stock market drop, 100% of skyrocketing unemployment, 100% of the bailouts, the crash of the Frank/Dodd financial system, a 40% growth in government spending, and $3.8 trillion of new deficit debt belongs to this Democrat Congress.

Republican Congress average annual deficit: $105 billion (1996-2007)
Democrat congress average annual deficit: $1.305 trillion (2008-2010)

Twelve years of record prosperity with the Republican Congress.
Three years of failure, misery, fiscal insanity, and ruin under Pelosi/Reid/Obama

QED
Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------

You must be joking, or at least I hope so.

Democrats are 100% responsible for the above? I loathe the GOP and not even I would be so naive and stupid as to assign all the blame to them. My God man, do you have any idea how incredibly naive you sound?

You must see the entire world in black and white with absolutely no shades of gray, you know, like a child. You also seem to confuse the concept of correlation with causation. So the recession started at the same time the Dems controlled congress ergo the Democrats caused the recession. By that logic, if you can call it that, the number of terrorist attacks increased while Bush was President, ergo, Bush caused an increase in terrorism. You're naming two events that seem to be correlated and assuming that one caused the other. That is a classic logical fallacy.

I still can't get over the sheer audacity and shamelessness to blame this entire economic mess on one party. Here's a test, are there any other Republicans or Democrats who feel as though their party is 100% blameless in the debacle and that the other party is 100% to blame?

/yes I may have been trolled but its just so hard to tell anymore

Posted by: cjpotter19 | December 23, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait until 2012 to get the rest of these clowns out of there and start cleaning up the mess that Obama and his cronies have created as they've attempted to destroy this country.

Posted by: oldno7 | December 22, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse


Exactly what mess do you refer to? And can you tell me how it's on Obama and not Bush. BTW, when Obama took office we were shedding 700,000 jobs EVERY MONTH. Now we have slow job growth.

Please tell me about this mess that the Republicans are going to clean up.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 22, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Furthermore, the Rethugs caused the economic mess we're in (that was bordering on an economic Depression in '08). How is it that you will continue the pre-2008 policies that got us into this mess to get us out? Seems fairly simple to me that you are insane.

Posted by: dc1020008 | December 23, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Exactly what mess do you refer to? And can you tell me how it's on Obama and not Bush. BTW, when Obama took office we were shedding 700,000 jobs EVERY MONTH. Now we have slow job growth.

Please tell me about this mess that the Republicans are going to clean up.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 22, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Liberals always leave off the most important facts about why we were shedding so many jobs. Let's see do you remember the Community Reinvestment Act that basically forced banks to lend money to just about anybody who walked in the door including illegal immigrants? Do you remember that this was the main reason for our near financial meltdown? And most of all, do you remember that this was a Liberal Agenda that blew up in our face and you want us to believe that the War in Iraq caused the financial mess? Liberals are just modern day thieves. They can't make it on their own so they have to steal others money and give it back to the do nothings of the world. A first grader knows better then to take his classmates sandwich as he did not deserve it. Why is it that you Liberals can't think like a first grader? Liberals Suck!

Posted by: Cobra2 | December 23, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Hey DCalle,

Regarding "Kerry is an idiot living off of someone elses trust fund wealth." George W. Bush/Kettle/Black.

Posted by: ggilby1 | December 23, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

smith6 responds| December 23, 2010 9:01 AM

gOtcha: Lets look at some things you wrote:
...
You do make some interesting additional points, but refute none of the facts that I documented. That's progress. Now to your additional points:

re 1. You seem to make the argument that the Fed was to blame for the collapse of the economy and you then want to pin that on Democrats. Greenspan who led the Fed was a "free market" guru who was nominted by a Republican Presidents and confirmed by a Republican Congress. Greenspan's constantly did not see a problem with a "housing bubble" and felt that the "rational" market would solve all problems.
--
OK. Your point? Blame it on Greenspan and not the Democrats? You can probably make a plausible case there.
--
2. Were you screaming at Bush and the Republican Congress as they ran up the defecit with war costs that were not included in the Budget? Did you argue that the Republican President and Congress were bankrupting our Country? Because if you had, you might have been called "unAmerican" for questioning President Bush during a war, because that is what happened to anyone who questioned Bush.
--
Yup, completely agree with you on this point. The Republic President and the Democrat Party conspired to create a significnt part of the problem we are in. More effective leaders might have found a better way. But they didn't and we're paying the price.
--
3. You do realize that the Health Care Bill passed by the Democrats is not only PAID for but will actually reduce the defecit. (See the Congressional Budget Office if you don't believe me). So yes the Democrats did do more to help not only Seniors but all Americans to have access to Health Care and Democrats DID pay for it.
--
There is a body of analysis and opinion that makes the case you are wrong here. But, on balance, we had to do something on health care and can fix this starter kit as we get more experience with the health care trends and unintended consequences of the legislation.
--
4. You do realize that the 700 billion paid for TARP is now reduced to 25 billion. Most financial and economic experts, liberal to conservative, agree that without TARP our entire financial system would have collapsed. It is difficult to argue what "could of happened" but I wear my seatbelt just in case too.
--
Yup, we got most of TARP back. But the banks just used TARP to buy short term equites (capitalizing on the spread between the cost of the cram down and the returns they could make buying Australian commodities - look it up; the "sources and uses" of TARP are now in the public domain). And they paid it back as soon as they could so investigators didn't have the leverage to curb their salaries or question how they were investing the money.
--
5. Your dishonesty and unobjectivity... see above.
--
More jive: no facts to support your point.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: cjpotter19 | December 23, 2010 9:34 AM

You must be joking, or at least I hope so. I still can't get over the sheer audacity and shamelessness to blame this entire economic mess on one party.
--
ok, cjpotter19, I made my case. You reacted with emotion. Now make your case with facts.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: cjpotter19 | December 23, 2010 9:34 AM

You must be joking, or at least I hope so. I still can't get over the sheer audacity and shamelessness to blame this entire economic mess on one party.
--
ok, cjpotter19, I made my case. You reacted with emotion. Now make your case with facts.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 23, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

It says that if it was not done now it never would have got done! With Kim Jon Kyl wanting to return to the COLD WAR days of the 50s along with McConnell smelling money to vote no it says that ten republicans who are leaving woke up from the stupor of having sipped the right wing tea of deceit and that now only 3 sane republicans remain. With McCain undermining everything since he lost and showing his confederate roots with the crazy right wing nut john birch tea people coming in with no idea of what compromise is yet alone history. 2011 will be the congress of the nut jobs who will by their collective ignorance carry on the confederate dream of stealing the rest of America away from the people. The same people who stole the economy under Bush are back to steal the only thing left, government. The American people and Obama will have to deal with a right wing nut confederate house that is perhaps the most dangerous assembly of ignorant idealogical wing nuts the world has seen since Munich in the 1930s. The scary part of this new right wing group is the cling to the business model that the Germans and English had in WW1 and WW2 and for the most part EVERYONE has forgotten the American business model that started with TR and ended with FDR with a stark warning from IKE. The John Birch Society has hijacked the republican party, and no one knows enough to know 2011 is a modern beer hall on K street.

Posted by: iseasygoing | December 23, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

It says that if it was not done now it never would have got done! With Kim Jon Kyl wanting to return to the COLD WAR days of the 50s along with McConnell smelling money to vote no it says that ten republicans who are leaving woke up from the stupor of having sipped the right wing tea of deceit and that now only 3 sane republicans remain. With McCain undermining everything since he lost and showing his confederate roots with the crazy right wing nut john birch tea people coming in with no idea of what compromise is yet alone history. 2011 will be the congress of the nut jobs who will by their collective ignorance carry on the confederate dream of stealing the rest of America away from the people. The same people who stole the economy under Bush are back to steal the only thing left, government. The American people and Obama will have to deal with a right wing nut confederate house that is perhaps the most dangerous assembly of ignorant idealogical wing nuts the world has seen since Munich in the 1930s. The scary part of this new right wing group is the cling to the business model that the Germans and English had in WW1 and WW2 and for the most part EVERYONE has forgotten the American business model that started with TR and ended with FDR with a stark warning from IKE. The John Birch Society has hijacked the republican party, and no one knows enough to know 2011 is a modern munich beer hall on K street. in the colony.

Posted by: iseasygoing | December 23, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

More in pie in the sky propaganda and moron logic, courtesy of the resulting sugar high, from the President's legislative accomplishments during the lame duck session.

Susan Collins Olympia Snowe both have bulls eyes on the back of their heads.

Unlike START, Demcorats and Republicans are miles apart when it comes to reducing the deficit, and the inevitable cuts in entitlement and defense spending.

Moreover, the President is up for reelection as well, which means he's not going to go up against his base to cut entitlements.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

What I mean by bull eyes, is that they are both up for re-election, and have elements in their partying acting aggressively to beat them.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 23, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Dionne might be right that Obama and the Democrats can find some Republicans they can work with in the next Congress. Here's why.

The hard-liners in the Senate - DeMint, Kyle, McConnell and some others - have even stopped bothering to offer half-way plausible arguments for their obstruction of things that Obama supports. This behavior has been especially obvious during the lame duck session. Put bluntly, the hard liners' behavior is an embarrassment to some Republicans who still see their role as legislators in a more traditional and constructive light. And that provides them some motivation to defy the hard line.

Posted by: tunkefer | December 23, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Instead of running their mouths, all these bloggers will be more concerned about putting food in it once the government goes broke.

Posted by: grumpycarl63 | December 23, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It will be an interesting time. Republicans will actually be expected to do the antithesis of what they've done for the past thirty years. Their Tea Party voters expect them to push the policies they've mouthed rather than what they've done again and again.

As Republicans work to destroy health care reform, people will see it actually could make the system a bit better, more humane, and save money. As Republicans work to keep the tax cuts intact above 250 grand, the cost of their largess will be seen. As they work to cut programs from food stamps to education to regulation to the environment, the human cost will be examined. And as they work their social agenda in these tough economic times, there will be little patience for posturing about abortion, gay rights, or possibly even the menace of muslims and hispanics.

Republicans have lived off platitudes about thrift while preaching greed, fear and envy. Republicans talk tough about the military but have left us with a volunteer army too small to fight all their wars. They have also stripping the VA every time they got the chance. Republicans have built up debt like no other group in American history.

And lastly, Republicans tell us it is a good thing to hate our own government. What leader who rides this wave of hatred of country can really be trusted?

Posted by: kcbob | December 24, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

Its coming.

A day.

When the citizens of any Congressional district will rise up and kick the teabaggers out of their lives, and force them to stop depriving them of their constitutional right to pick their representatives without threats and interference from those who would break the constitution in a heartbeat if they can.

The teabaggers have no right to decide for any congressional district who can represent those citizens.

Posted by: dutchess2 | December 24, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

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