Salvaging New START

After weeks of back-and-forth reporting on whether or not the New START arms-control agreement would be ratified before the new year, it finally looks like the answer is yes. Democrats have reportedly lined up the nine Republican votes needed for ratification (no matter what the Wall Street Journal says about the treaty’s relevancy). In a final attempt to salvage something from the GOP argument against the pact, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has submitted an amendment clarifying that the treaty will not limit America’s missile-defense programs. The collapse of Republican opposition comes a day after Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, sent a letter to senators imploring them to support the agreement.

Some bloggers expressed shock at the news, and John Tabin jokes, “I know everyone is super-excited about this—what gets the blood running like arms control debates?” Over at The Corner, Rich Lowry laments the GOP’s “dismaying rout.” Huffington Poster Ryan Grim accuses McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are holding onto their opposition to ratification to exact revenge on everyone else for repealing DADT.

Kevin Drum notes that the lame-duck session of Congress turned out to be far more productive than expected (repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” extending the Bush tax cuts, a food safety bill and (hopefully—or not) a health care package for 9/11 first responders), despite the Republican mid-term election victory. Engaging in a bit of hyperbole, Chris Good says ratification could restore faith in “the legislative process.”

But in case you’re suffering from START saturation, check out the blessedly named Bartle Bull’s Journal op-ed trumpeting the “Coming Iraqi business Boom.” (Hooray!) And then there’s New York Times duo Mark Mazetti and Dexter Filkin’s article on a proposed plan circulating inside the Obama administration to expand offensive operations on the ground inside Pakistan.