President Obama and Russian President Medvedev just signed a landmark new arms control treaty. Now, it's up to the United States Senate—the world's greatest deliberative body—to ratify it. All it takes is 67 votes.
Lawmakers and politicians in both parties have long supported nuclear arms reductions—it was even a major goal of Ronald Reagan. The last arms control treaty between the two nations was signed by George H. W. Bush. The new treaty will allow for monitoring and verifying Russia's nuclear arsenal.
So, at the moment, it has broad enough bipartisan support to make Senate ratification seem like just a formality.
But that is because it has not yet been sufficiently demagogued! You just wait, guys. And wait, and wait— relevant Senate committee hearings will maybe begin sometime this... spring, let's say. Those will last a while. By the time anyone's ready to vote on the damn thing, it'll be practically late summer. You think Senate Republicans want to hand the President a major foreign policy victory just before the midterm elections?
The current grumble from Republicans is that the Russians issued a "unilateral statement" on how they will totally withdraw from the treaty if the US builds up a missile defense system, which Republicans would like us to do in eastern Europe. (Isn't it weird that we can just build "missile shields" in eastern Europe? But we're not allowed to extend the deadline for filing for unemployment benefits until Tom Coburn can be assured that it's paid for!)
Obviously, this "unilateral statement" is just Russia being Russia. It is not binding or all that meaningful. But is provides a really convenient excuse for Serious Foreign Policy Republicans to decide not to support ratification, if it comes down to it.
And it is pretty easy to predict how things will go once Fox and talk radio really get into it—it'll be all "Barack Obama wants to take away our nukes and our submarines," and suddenly the idea that anyone anywhere in the world should be working toward even limited nuclear disarmament will be dangerous peacenik America-hating nonsense.
So far, none of the usual suspects have anything to say about START. This just means the relevant Luntz/Kristol/Meese/"Council for National Policy" talking point memos haven't been drafted and disseminated yet. But soon! Soon we will learn that Barack Obama is a modern-day Alger Hiss, determined to let your child die in a fiery nuclear holocaust.