What a difference sixteen days can make.
Back on December 6, I was super-irked at President Obama and urged people to do what I'd just done: unsubscribe from Organizing for America email alerts to tell his online presence extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy doesn't cut it with us once-fervent Obama supporters.
Today I re-registered my email address with OFA. I'm back on (indirect) speaking terms with Obama, because his handling of the lame duck Congress after November's crushing Democratic setback in the midterm election was masterful.
Or, amazingly lucky. Maybe a bit of both.
Regardless, getting the New Start arms control treaty ratified by the Senate today was the icing on a productive legislative cake for me. Like I said before, the tax cut deal he reached with Republicans started to look better to me when the details became apparent.
Getting the ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy overturned added more fuel to my increasingly warmer feelings about Obama. I've heartily enjoyed listening to gay service members talk about how important this act was to them, and how it will strengthen the military.
This afternoon I also had no problem watching Fox News when a panel discussed the lame duck session of Congress. Clearly this stuck in the craw of the conservative commentators, but they had to admit that Obama is back.
And that he ended up with way more legislative wins than could have predicted during the dark post-election days less than two months ago.
Credit, of course, has to be shared with the Republican senators who had the guts (and patriotism) to put country above politics. Approving the New Start treaty was the right thing to do, according to almost every military, foreign policy, and diplomatic expert. However, the Senate Republican leadership was focused on denying Obama a victory, not on the national interest.
Here's some advice for Republicans from a progressive who sort of wishes they don't take it -- because this would decrease GOP chances of beating the Dems again in 2012.
People are tired of divisiveness and do-nothingness in Congress. The lame duck session was a breath of political fresh air. I even had occasional warm feelings toward Republican senators this past week, and that's unususal for me.
GOP strategists would be well-advised to look for more opportunities to partner with Obama and the Democrats, naturally without sacrificing their party's role as a loyal opposition. Independent and moderate voters are going to be a lot more inclined to go with "R's" next election if the Republican Party stops looking like it is batshit crazy on key issues.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, since I want to see Obama re-elected in 2012), I don't think the Republican leadership in Congress will end up going in that direction.
They'll succumb at crucial times to extreme Tea Party demands, maybe even going so far as to shut the federal government down by refusing to pass a reasonable budget, or panicking financial markets by failing to raise the national debt ceiling.
Great for Obama's re-election chances, bad for the country.
If Republicans are smart, they'll find a middle way where they work with Obama and the Dems on important issues like deficit reduction, tax reform, and energy policies, while staking out alternative stands where the differences between "R" and "D" are too large to bridge.
Brian: “Approving the New Start treaty was the right thing to do, according to ALMOST EVERY military, foreign policy, and diplomatic expert.”
NOT EVEN CLOSE.
Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, USN (Ret): “The Soviets/Russians…won by outmaneuvering Obama. START plays right into their hands. START is simply a political victory for Obama.” http://www.usni.org/vice-admiral-obama-was-outmaneuvered-russians-start
Vice Admiral Robert Monroe, USN (Ret): “It (START) is the first major step in the implementation of Mr. Obama's broader nuclear strategy. This strategy would gravely weaken American national security.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704271804575405634208565808.html
In a joint letter to Senators Reid and McConnell authored by 32 of the nation’s foremost military, foreign policy, and diplomatic arms control/nuclear security experts: “It is our considered professional judgment that this treaty and the larger disarmament agenda which its ratification would endorse are not consistent with the national security interests of the United States, and that both should be rejected by the Senate.” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/upload/wysiwyg/article%20pdfs/NDWG%20New%20START%20Letter%2010-13-2010%20%28final%29.pdf
Notice that these folks are retired and thus not muzzled into silence by the chain of command:
Judge William P. Clark, Former National Security Advisor to the President
Hon. Edwin Meese, III, Former Counselor the President; Former Attorney General of the United States
Hon. Kathleen Bailey, Former Assistant Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Norman Bailey, Former Senior Director of International Economic Affairs
Hon. Robert B. Barker, Former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic Energy)
Amb. John Bolton, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Brig. Gen. Jimmy L. Cash, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Vice-Commander, 7th Air Force
Hon. Fred S. Celec, Former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs
Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Former Director, Strategic Defense Initiative, Former Chief U.S. Negotiator, Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union
Hon. Paula DeSutter, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
Hon. Fritz W. Ermarth, Former Chairman and National Intelligence Officer, National Intelligence Council; Former Member of the National Security Council Staff
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting)
Daniel J. Gallington, Former Secretary of Defense Representative, Defense and Space Talks; Former General Counsel, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Policy
Hon. Bruce S. Gelb, Former Director, U.S. Information Agency, Former Ambassador to Belgium
Hon. William Graham, Former Chairman, General Advisory Committee on Arms Control, Former Science Advisor to the President, Former Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Amb. Read Hammer, Former U.S. Chief START Negotiator; Former Deputy Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Hon. Fred Iklé, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Sven F. Kraemer, Former Director of Arms Control, National Security Council
Dr. John Lenczowksi, Former Director of European and Soviet Affairs, National Security Council
Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Tidal W. McCoy, Former Secretary of the Air Force (Acting)
Lieut. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Deputy Chief of Staff
Hon. J. William Middendorf II, Former Secretary of the Navy, Former Ambassador to the European Union, the Netherlands and the Organization of American States
Vice Admiral Robert Monroe, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Former Senior Staff, Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States; Former Senior Staff, Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
Roger W. Robinson, Jr., Former Senior Director of International Economic Affairs at the National Security Council, former Executive Secretary of the Cabinet-level Senior Inter-Governmental Group for International Economic Policy
Amb. Ed Rowny, Former U.S. Chief START Negotiator; Former Special Advisor to President Ronald Reagan on Arms Control
Michael S. Swetnam, Former Program Monitor, Intelligence Community Staff with liaison responsibilities to INF and START Interagency Groups, and Former Member of the Technical Advisory Group to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Major Gen. Paul E. Vallely, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Pacific
Hon. Michelle Van Cleave, Former National Counterintelligence Executive
Dr. William Van Cleave, Former Director, Department of Defense Transition Team
Hon. Troy Wade, Former Director, Defense Programs, U.S. Department of Energy
Posted by: DJ | December 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM