A Tragic Loss for the Nation, a Pyrrhic Victory for Obama?

The United States Senate under Majority Leader Harry Reid has ceased to deserve its historic reputation as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” By cynically manipulating parliamentary procedures during a lame-duck session so as to preclude filibusters and amendments, Sen. Reid today jammed through his chamber repeal of the statute prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the armed forces.

The costs of the Democrats’ highhandedness and abuse of power may prove to be very high, however. For one thing, they have chosen – with the vote to repeal what they wrongly insist on calling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – to ignore evidence that their action will drive large numbers of servicemen and women to resign from the military. Still others seem likely to decline to enlist.

The cumulative effect may be to break the All Volunteer Force – setting up a hard choice that the radical homosexual activists and their partisans consistently refuse to acknowledge: between weakening America to the point of losing the present wars and inviting new ones, or reinstituting the draft.

There is another possible cost of the thuggish Rules-for-Radicals approach Harry Reid has adopted with encouragement from Saul Alinsky’s protégé in the White House, Barack Obama: Senators may spurn administration demands that they approve the New START Treaty before the start of the 112th Congress in early January.

A test vote came this afternoon when 37 Senators voted for an amendment offered by Sen. John McCain that would have stripped deeply problematic language about “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms” from the Treaty’s preamble. The preambular section (augmented by several others in the body of the accord – notably, Articles V, IX and XII) is the basis for the Russians’ claim that “any quantitative and qualitative improvement” in U.S. missile defenses would prompt their withdrawal from New START.

Quite apart from the fury many Republicans feel at having their prerogatives for deliberation foreclosed – let alone how upset they are at Sen. Reid’s abridgment of their institution’s constitutional responsibility to provide informed advice, as well as consent, to treaties – the failure of the McCain amendment would provide its thirty-seven supporters with concrete grounds for rejecting the treaty. With 67 votes being required to ratify New START, the stage could be set for its defeat outright – or deferral to next year.

That would be the sensible course of action in any event. Doing so will allow: additional, and more balanced, hearings to be held; the negotiating record to be obtained and reviewed; and a real debate to be conducted – complete with the opportunity, and probably the votes, to improve the treaty with respect to its overreaching and negative impact on U.S. anti-missile capabilities and its other deficiencies.

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