Independent Senator Joe Lieberman really, really likes to say "no." Lieberman's penchant for opposition made him a controversial figure during the health care debate--but it also made him a key player in the talks, ultimately securing a version of reform to Lieberman's liking. Now, with some Republicans hinting they might not vote to ratify Obama's strategic arms reduction treaty (START) with Russia, Lieberman is hinting that he's not happy with the treaty himself. Is he really going to try to block it? Could he succeed?
- Lieberman: Not Enough Votes Without Me The Hill's Bridget Johnson reports, "Lieberman (I-Conn.) said the administration may have problems getting the START treaty signed last week ratified in the Senate. Lieberman said he'd arrived at his belief on the vote tally falling short after conversations with colleagues over the congressional recess."
- Lieberman: Why I'm Opposed Speaking on Fox New Sunday: "Anytime we are working on something with our old Cold War enemy, Russia, cooperatively, it's a good sign. Anything we can do to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world is a positive development. But in my opinion as we reduce the number of nuclear warheads... we have to make darn sure that are nuclear warheads are capable and modern and a lot of them are decades old. So I feel very strongly that I am going to be real hesitant to vote for this treaty unless we have a commitment from the Administration that they are prepared to modernize our nuclear stockpile."
- Obama Already Doing This The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen sighs, "Of course, if Lieberman and Republicans are principally concerned with modernizing the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal, they're preaching to the choir, since the Obama administration has already endorsed doing exactly that."
- What He Really Wants Think Progress' Max Bergmann fumes, "what Lieberman is really saying is that he agrees with those on the far right that want to needlessly build new nuclear weapons, nearly two decades years after the end of the Cold War. The far right insists that the U.S. is falling behind because it is not building new nuclear weapons and that our existing nuclear arsenal is deteriorating. This is a myth and demonstrates a complete, if not willful, ignorance of our approach to maintaining our nuclear weapons."
- Could Be a 'Tough Battle' The Huffington Post's Sam Stein predicts, "Lieberman's comments foreshadow what seems likely to be a piqued and difficult battle for the White House on the nuclear arms control front." Obama "needs to cobble together at least eight Republicans (nine, if Lieberman crosses party lines) to get START II into law."
- Good For Joe Commentary's Jennifer Rubin mocks the Obama administration. "Did they think that in an election year they'd get this ratified -- or that with reduced Democratic numbers in the Senate it would get through next year? Perhaps all Obama wanted was a signing ceremony, something to justify his 'reset' policy and his previous betrayal of Eastern European allies. It is hard to imagine that the Russians will be pleased and our relationship enhanced once we break the news to them that their shiny new treaty is dead on arrival"