Monday, November 29, 2010

New START: Tea Party Targets Lugar? And Could GOP Be "Beyond Redemption"?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 3:12 PM

The New York Times profiles Sen. Dick Lugar, whose support for the New START treaty with Russia has him in the sights of the Tea Party:


... the New Start treaty, under which the United States and Russia would pare their nuclear arsenals and resume lapsed mutual inspections, [is] a signature foreign policy goal of the Obama administration. Republican colleagues have opposed the treaty and would prefer to push the matter into the 112th Congress, which begins in January, potentially dooming it.

This has upset Mr. Lugar, who called on his colleagues to “do your duty” before they broke for Thanksgiving. Nuclear disarmament is an issue Mr. Lugar has pursued most of his career; in the 1990s he teamed with Sam Nunn, then a Democratic senator from Georgia, on their own program to secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Obama became involved in the Nunn-Lugar efforts as a senator and traveled with Mr. Lugar to Russia in 2005.

Mr. Lugar’s recent breaks with his party have stirred the attention of Indiana Tea Party groups, who have him in their sights. “Senator Lugar has been an upstanding citizen representing us in D. C.,” said Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party. “But over the years, he has become more moderate in his voting.”

Former Sen. John C. Danforth's reaction wonders if the GOP is "beyond redemption":

Even after the midterm rout that will remove many long-serving members from Congress, the idea that Mr. Lugar would be vulnerable to a primary challenge is a chilling notion to many Republicans, a symbol of symbolism gone too far.

“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

Mr. Danforth, who was first elected the same year as Mr. Lugar, added, “I’m glad Lugar’s there and I’m not.”

Don't expect Jon Kyl to budge in his opposition to a vote on New START during the lame-duck session.

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