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My fellow Americans,

The end of the year is traditionally a time for people to reflect on what has happened and turn toward what is coming. Unless, of course, you're the president with an agenda facing the last few days of a lame-duck congress. In that case, the end of the year is a time of pressure and anxiety as you scramble to salvage as many of your initiatives as possible before the new (and hostile) group comes in and sabotages your every move.

The matter of Obama's Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia is a perfect example. President Obama has asked the congress to ratify START before congress adjourns for the end of the year. The republicans, wearing their pants high after successful mid-term elections and gaining the extension of the Bush tax cuts, are resistant and looking to again flex their muscles. The rationale of the republican senators who wish to delay the vote on the treaty is that they want to take reasonable time to debate it and ensure that it allows for sufficient protections for the United States is hard to refute.

However, as others have pointed out, what happens in the senate, particularly as it concerns matters of the president, is usually not based on logic, nor because of a Left-Right philosophical incongruity. Instead, too often, it becomes little more than a pissing contest between the legislative and executive branches, where the senate obfuscates a president's agenda simply because they can. Sadly, congress wants to feel important and relevant, and to do so they often resort to taking a position contrary to that of the president simply because it focuses attention on them. What they really need to do is understand that if the president does something of this level, the job of congress is simply to approve it and nothing more. Congress should focus on domestic issues and not meddle in international affairs.  Foreign policy should be the sole territory of the president. Congress has neither the capacity nor opposable thumbs required for that sort of delicate work.

So, while the president is pressing for swift ratification, the senate, led by Sens McConnel (R-KY) and Kyl (R-AZ) is intentionally playing a low-tempo game.  Now, far be it for me to question the integrity of my fellow republicans, but there are some who have wondered whether their intransigence is actually justified. And while I am more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to members of my party, I have more than enough first-hand experience with senators to know that they can often act on selfish reasons ahead of what's good for the country.

Back in 1972, I found myself in a similar situation. I, along with Kissinger, had been working with Leonid Brezhnev, Aleksander Dobrynin, and the Soviets since 1969 on the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT). And anyone who has had to face the Soviets knows that this was a very delicate matter. After three years of endless summits in desolate locales negotiating megatonnage, deployment vectors, MIRVs and MRVs, ICBMs, and methods of verification, we finally had an agreement. To say it was a noteworthy accomplishment is more than a gross understatement.

SALT should have been cause for massive celebrations along the level of VE and VJ day. I should have been met with a ticker-tape parade in Times Square, fireworks, and been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Instead, as Henry said, the republicans in the senate treated me like a schlub (its one of those funny sounding Hebrew words he would often use).  They questioned my patriotism and reacted to the treaty with knee-jerk opposition and skepticism. Some even wondered aloud whether I'd capitulated to the communists and ensured the destruction of our nation. They demanded an open debate to dissect the treaty and then had the temerity to suggest changes according to their whims. It made no difference to them that between me and Henry we had the two sharpest international political minds involved. Oh no! Those ingrates felt as if somehow they had the right to meddle, even though they had about as much understanding of the intricacies of the agreement as a hillbilly has of personal hygiene.

Their interference almost sent Henry over the edge, but I understood the congressional mind (having served as both representative and senator).  All those small people wanted was their moment in the spotlight. Maybe a few pictures in their local papers for the rubes. Ultimately, they voted to ratify the treaty. But not without first butting in to the process like an unwanted alcoholic half-brother at Thanksgiving dinner.

It's not surprising that things haven't changed all that much, although in today's climate it seems that the vocal opposition of Senators McConnel and Kyl are more about being against something Obama is for.  Still, it boils down to those to just being the sort of pushy dunderheads who crave the attention and validation of their existence. People like them ought to realize that their constant intrusion does nothing but needlessly complicate things. But their inflated sense of self-importance prevents that.

Nixon is: Frustrated


jguywrite said...

You're back! So afraid your blog had become a (pardon the pun) ghost site. Love Tricky Dick's comment about hillbillies & personal hygiene. All wrapped into political satire. Kick ass, my friend.

The Ghost of Richard Nixon said...

Nixon apologizes for the recent absence, but my phlebitis and shingles were acting up & I needed a prolonged convalescence.

Thanks for your continued support.