South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Arizona Sen. John Kyl have turned resistance to a new START treaty with Russia into a religious calling. “You can’t jam a major arms control treaty right before Christmas,” DeMint tells Politico. “What’s going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year – they kept everybody here until (Christmas Eve) to force something down everybody’s throat. I think Americans are sick of this.”
That’s right, it’s sacrilegious to work the day before a religious holiday. Kyl concurs, warning that the Senate risks “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.” Clearly this line of reasoning is meant to show that Senators are just like regular folk, because regular folk would never disrespect Christmas by working a day or two before . . . oh, wait.
In fact, DeMint is so concerned about the Senate stealing a news cycle from the birth of Jesus Christ that he is doing whatever he can to make Senate business take longer. He wants the entire START treaty read on the Senate floor, which could eat up about 12 hours of his own potential pre-church preparation time. It’s not hard to figure out why only 13 percent of the American people approve of the job Congress is doing, which is the lowest rate in the history of the Gallup poll.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs just sent out statement calling the DeMint gambit “a new low,” which is almost certainly not true, since this is Washington, where untenable, horrific, appalling lows have been stocked like fine Bordeaux in the cellars of history since the city was designated as the nation’s capital in 1791.
Update: An Obama Administration official, as part of the ongoing campaign to soil the sanctity of pre-Christmas, emails over an additional fact, demonstrating that Democrats want to escalate this showdown with DeMint: “Sen. DeMint only attended 5 of the 12 SFRC [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] hearings on START, plus the Committee markup session on Sept. 16. He was not present for the final vote to order the treaty reported on the 16th.”
SECOND UPDATE: DeMint has dropped his plans to force a reading of the treaty.
The full Gibbs statement, after the jump.
This is a new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security, and it is exactly the kind of Washington game-playing that the American people are sick of. While some express concern that the Senate doesn’t have time to debate the Treaty, Senator DeMint wants to waste 12 hours to read the text of a treaty that has been available to every member of the Senate and the public for more than eight months. This Treaty has been the subject of nearly 20 Senate hearings and 1,000 questions, and is supported by President George H.W. Bush, every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and the military leadership of the United States of America. Every minute that the START Treaty is being read on the Senate floor increases the time that we lack verification of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. It is the height of hypocrisy to complain that there is not enough time to consider this Treaty, while wasting so much time reading aloud a document that was submitted to the Senate months ago.