New START just might win approval in the Senate by the end of the year.
Should that happen, mark November 30, 2010 as the key turning point.
But don’t count on it just yet.
A number of Republican Senators said good things about New START today, following weeks of criticisms from the same bunch.
Starting from the top: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Says McConnell: “I think the view – the unanimous view of Senate Republicans is let’s take care of the tax issue; let’s take care of how we’re going to fund the government for the next 10 months; and then if there’s time left for other matters, it will be up to the majority leader, Senator Reid, to decide whether we turn to other things before we adjourn for the year.”
Sure, he is holding New START hostage to tax cuts and appropriations bills.
But that the biggest opening he has left all year.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the once and future President, added: “I believe that we could move forward with the START treaty and satisfy Senator Kyl’s concerns and mine about missile defense and others.”
It might not be “I Love You,” but it is a good, well, maybe I will like you in the morning.
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker joined the chorus. Cornered by reporters, he said:
“I thought they [the Obama administration] did a good job. I think it’s continuing to evolve in a good way as it relates to modernization . . . Could we finish? I think it’s possible that we could.”
Good for him.
Retiring Ohio Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), who has railed against the treaty as undermining Central European countries that once were Soviet satellites, now has changed his tune.
“In an interview with Washington Wire, Mr. Voinovich said unified support out of the Lisbon summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this month convinced him that Europe, especially Eastern Europe, wants the treaty. He had based his concerns on his belief that the treaty’s ratification could bring a return to Russian dominance of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. ‘There seems to be a lot of coming together there and a lot more comfort [with the treaty] among our friends and allies in Europe,’ Mr. Voinovich said. ‘I think I’d be supportive.’”
Finally, there is the brand newest Senator, Mark Kirk (R-IL), ever cautious but sort of semi-positive: “I’m open-minded and this is one of the issues I’ll raise with the State Department briefing teams coming up to talk to me.”
Does this add up to 67 votes? Not yet, but stayed turned.
It’s not over until the fat Senator sings.