At least Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is honest. At last Thursday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on New START, he explained his absence at the previous nine hearings on the treaty thusly:
I agree that this is the tenth hearing you’ve had. I would suggest that you haven’t had any hearings where the witnesses are opposed to the treaty….We’ve had…seventeen witnesses so far; no witnesses in opposition to it. I don’t know who thinks that can be reasonable.
Inhofe continued that he could finally show up because the tenth hearing included two witnesses (Bob Joseph and Eric Edelman) whose questions about the treaty largely comported with his own.
As you may recall, a day before the hearing our own John Isaacs published a nice little blog over at the Chain Reaction taking the good Senator to task for criticizing New START without bothering to show up for or ask a single question at any of the previous public hearings.
While Inhofe eventually got around to correctly noting that it was John who criticized him for his prior absences (who knew the Council had the power to get a Republican to show up at a hearing??), he at first confused John’s missive with an ad paid for last week by the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) in which 30 Republican and Democratic leaders backed the treaty. The endorsement included such left wing luminaries as Colin Powell and former Senators Nancy Kassebaum-Baker (R-KS), Howard Baker (R-TN), and Alan Simpson (R-WY). Inhofe actually held up the PSA ad and claimed that it was attacking him!
Ohhh the irony. I doubt Senator Inhofe intended to inadvertently make the case for New START, but he ended up doing just that. As he noted, the seventeen previous witnesses who support the treaty include the likes of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (assumed his position under W. Bush), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (assumed his command under W. Bush), STRATCOM Commander Gen. Kevin Chilton (assumed his command under W. Bush), Stephen Hadley (National Security Advisor under W. Bush), Brent Scowcroft (National Security Advisor under H.W. Bush), Jim Baker (Secretary of State under H.W. Bush), and James Schlesinger (Secretary of Defense under Nixon and Ford). Add these to the PSA ad (which Inhofe triumphantly displayed at the hearing) and what you get is an ironclad bipartisan consensus in support of New START.
This is just a thought, but maybe the Obama administration should hire Inhofe to do some of its PR on the treaty?