“Tea party” Prologue

Senator Dick Lugar one of the last remaining statesmen in the Senate, was recently the subject of much scorn from the “tea party”. Senator Lugar was discussing republican obstruction of the START treaty, when he had this quote:

LUGAR: Please do your duty for your country. We do not have verification of the Russian nuclear posture right now. We’re not going to have it until we sign the START treaty. We’re not going to be able to get rid of further missiles and warheads aimed at us. I state it candidly to my colleagues, one of those warheads…could demolish my city of Indianapolis — obliterate it! Now Americans may have forgotten that. I’ve not forgotten it and I think that most people who are concentrating on the START treaty want to move ahead to move down the ladder of the number of weapons aimed at us.

The START treaty is supported by the entire foreign policy establishment (including Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and James A. Baker) also passage has been getting editorialized throughout the country.

The treaty, the first with Russia in a decade, calls for both sides to reduce their deployed warheads modestly to 1,550 from 2,200. More important, it would restore “verification,” inspections and other exchanges of information about the American and Russian arsenals.

The problem it has run into is the current republican platform of denying President Obama any success no matter what the cost to the United States. As was also pointed out in the NY Times Editorial:

The treaty is so central to this country’s national security, and the objections from Mr. Kyl — and apparently the whole Republican leadership — are so absurd that the only explanation is their limitless desire to deny President Obama any legislative success.

The outrage of Senator Lugar trying to do the right thing, has led to another great statesman former Senator John Danforth to wax nostalgic.

“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.”

The “tea party” has already targeted Senator Lugars re-election as a seat they can replace. As Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party, told the Times, removing Lugar “will be a difficult challenge. But we do believe it’s doable, and we think the climate is right for it and we believe it is a must.” So it is a must to replace the guy that wants to reduce nuclear arms in the world.

In a related story from MN, we see the kind of candidates the ‘tea party” has delivered. State Rep. Tom Hackbarth has been stripped of his leadership role in the Republican caucus after an incident in which St. Paul police detained him and seized his loaded gun

On November 16, State House Rep. Tom Hackbarth was picked up by cops after a security guard outside the St. Paul clinic saw him acting suspicious… and brandishing a handgun. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, cops handcuffed him and kept his weapon because of his “stalking-like behavior” and ”harassment or terroristic threats.” The Planned Parenthood was closed and the legislator later said it was all a big “misunderstanding.” But his explanation was no less nefarious than the implications: Hackbarth was there to spy on a woman he’d been seeing who he suspected of lying to him. He told officers at the scene that he was “jealous”, but later backtracked.

I think Senator Danforth understated the problem. The question is not will the republican party survive the “tea party”, it is will America!


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