Joe Biden To Take Bigger Role As Obama Faces Stronger GOP

Joe Biden und Barack Obama in Springfield, Ill...
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Vice President Joe Biden is a career politician who has spent virtually his entire adult life in Washington politics — seemingly the antithesis of Barack Obama’s hope-and-change message.

Yet with a new political order in Washington, the success of Obama’s presidency hinges more and more on the negotiating skills and political instincts of his No. 2.

Facing a revived Republican Party, the White House is expected to increasingly deploy Biden as a presidential surrogate to find compromises and coax reluctant lawmakers into crossing party lines. Even Biden’s penchant for veering off message is being re-evaluated inside the White House as a bridge to ordinary voters who appreciate blunt talk.

A model for Biden’s role in the next session of Congress was the recent passage of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Biden, who built a reputation as a foreign policy expert during his 36 years in the Senate, prevailed in an internal White House debate over whether to press for ratification in the lame-duck session.  More…

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Scowcroft on START: ‘Partisan’ GOP Doesn’t Want To Give Obama ‘A Foreign Policy Victory’

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor to then President George H. W. Bush, is just one of the “old guard” from the “Washington Establishment” speaking out over the current partisan GOP actions toward any legislation brought forth by President Obama…

Think Progress

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been the leading Senate Republican urging the upper chamber of Congress to ratify the New START arms control treaty with Russia. However, the Republican obstructionism that has become so routine throughout the past two years of President Obama’s tenure is standing in the way. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has been the face of the GOP hamstringing and despite the fact that this non-controversial treaty — one that closely mirrors the one President Reagan signed with the Soviet Union — has been thoroughly debated in the Senate for nearly a year, Kyl told the New York Times, “If they try to jam us [in the lame-duck session], if they try to bring this up the week before Christmas, it’ll be defeated.”

Lugar has been reluctant to criticize his colleagues’ obstruction. When asked last week if they were just playing politics, Lugar said, “I am not ascribing motivations to anybody.” But other Republicans don’t seem to be holding back. Brent Scowcroft served as national security adviser to two Republican presidents and has been pleading with Congress to ratify New START. Profiling Lugar’s awkward position vis-a-vis other Senate Republicans on this issue, Politico reports today that Scrowcroft isn’t being as diplomatic as Lugar on the GOP’s incentive for holding up START:

In an attempt to rally bipartisan support for the treaty, the White House has enlisted the kind of GOP foreign policy wise men that Lugar exemplifies – among them former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker. But they have had no success with members of their own party, and it has left them scratching their heads over the source of the GOP opposition.

“It’s not clear to me what it is,” said Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush who noted that this START treaty is not very different from previous ones negotiated and ratified under Republican presidents. “I’ve got to think that it’s the increasingly partisan nature and the desire for the president not to have a foreign policy victory.”

The GOP opposition to START has become so laughable that even some are invoking Reagan. Indiana state senator Mike Delph, who may challenge Lugar in a primary, criticized Lugar’s support for START, saying last week that Obama and Lugar “need to remember Reagan’s philosophy of Peace through Strength.”

Outside of Scowcroft, the obvious partisanship surrounding the Kyl-led obstruction hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Wonk Room’s Max Bergmann notes that “the nation’s major newspapers, members of the military and even many Republicans have publicly denounced Kyl and Senate Republicans for their START objection.”

Former Republican Sen. Warns GOP May ‘Have Gone So Far Overboard That We Are Beyond Redemption’

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ri...
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As many have claimed over and over, “This current Republican Party is not your father or grandfather’s Republican Part.”   The current far-right GOP make Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 look like flaming liberals.

Former Republican Senator Sen. John Danforth of Missouri took issue with the current GOP for targeting Sen. Richard Lugar who is  taking issue with his party for blocking the ratification of the New START treaty.

Think Progress

In an age when far-right tea party activists have taken over the Republican Party and demanded lockstep allegiance, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been one of the few GOP lawmakers to step out of line. In particular, Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has blasted his own party for relentlessly blocking ratification of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia for petty political reasons, calling on his fellow GOP senators to “do your duty for your country” and complete the pact.

Not surprisingly, this insubordination has earned Lugar significant scorn within the Republican base, which now seems to value blind obedience over principled independent decision-making. In a New York Times profile of Lugar published today, former GOP Sen. John Danforth feared that the backlash against Lugar from his own party signals that the GOP has gone “far overboard” with no hope of turning back:

“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.”

Danforth’s fears are not unfounded. Lugar, who is up for reelection in 2012, has already been targeted by tea party groups. “If I was Dick Lugar, I would certainly expect a challenge,” noted veteran political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. 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.”

Indeed, asked about a potential tea party challenge motivated by his breaks with the GOP on START and other issues, Lugar suggested the party has drifted to the right while he has stayed steady, saying, “These are just areas where I’ve had stances for a long time.”

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G.O.P. Opposition Dims Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia

NYU Local

What happened to fiscal conservatism and national security — the two (supposed) central tenets of the Republican Party? There is something seriously misguided about believing that adding to the deficit to increase the stockpile of weapons is a more efficient way of strengthening national security than an enforceable agreement with your rival to not stockpile weapons at all (or at least less of them).

The New York Times

President Obama’s hopes of ratifying a new arms control treaty with Russia by the end of the year appeared to come undone on Tuesday as the chief Senate Republican negotiator moved to block a vote on the pact, one of the White House’s top foreign policy goals, in the lame-duck session of Congress.

The announcement by the senator, Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican point man on the issue, blindsided and angered the White House, which vowed to keep pressing for approval of the so-called New Start treaty. But the White House strategy had hinged entirely on winning over Mr. Kyl, and Democrats, who began scrambling for a backup plan, said they considered the chances of success slim.

Winning approval of the treaty will only become harder for the White House next year, when Democrats will have six fewer seats in the Senate, forcing the administration to rely on additional Republican votes to reach the 67 needed for ratification.

The treaty, which would force both countries to pare back nuclear arsenals and resume mutual inspections that lapsed last year for the first time since the cold war, is the centerpiece of two of Mr. Obama’s signature goals: restoring friendly relations with Russia and putting the world on a path toward eventually eliminating nuclear arms. A failure to ratify the treaty could freeze both efforts and, some analysts said, undermine Mr. Obama’s credibility on the world stage.

“Failure to pass the New Start treaty this year would endanger our national security,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has led negotiations with Mr. Kyl, said in a statement. It would mean “no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal,” Mr. Biden said, and would sour a relationship that has helped open a new supply route to troops in Afghanistan and increase pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.

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