Barack Obama as Charlie Brown

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

One of the recurring themes in “Peanuts,” Charles Schultz’s deliciously amusing cartoon, involved Lucy persuading Charlie Brown over and over again to kick a football she’d hold for him.  The hapless little boy would come at a run, give it his all, and at the last minute Lucy would pull the ball away and Charlie Brown would land flat on his back yet again.[ Video here.  1:52 ] But he never caught on. He was never going to kick that football, and Barack Obama is never going to stop letting himself be fooled by the Republicans in the legislature.

Here we have Sen. John Kyl in the role of Lucy, and Pres. Obama playing Charlie Brown. I don’t know exactly who Harry Reid, who plays the role of Senate Majority Leader in real life, is in this cartoon — the voice in Charlie Brown’s head telling him “you can do it this time,” or the one telling Lucy when the exactly right time comes to pull the football out of the way. Or both.

It’s a cartoon, all right, but I am not amused.

Kyl has been the Republicans’ chief negotiator with the White House on ratification of the New START (nuclear arms reduction treaty). President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed it last April. All that remains for it to take effect is the Yes vote of 67 Senators.  The White House thought they had the votes, after 29 meetings, briefings, emails, phone calls, and letters exchanged with Kyl, plus $84.1 billion for modernization of the US nuclear weapons capability that Kyl had insisted on in exchange for the Republican votes.

To show good faith, the White House included that money in the stopgap authorization bill that is currently keeping the government in operation.

To show bad faith, Kyl pulled the ball away — away from the commitment the White House thought he had made.

Now the papers are reporting that Harry Reid, who still has the title of majority leader in the Senate, essentially asked Kyl for permission to bring the treaty up for a vote.

And Kyl said no. He won’t vote for the treaty because of unresolved issues concerning this country’s safety. And if he won’t vote for it, neither will the rest of the Republicans the White House was counting on. And I’ll bet Reid won’t put it up for a vote, which I wish he’d do to show just how scurvy Kyl and his crew are.

Why Reid continues to protect them, I can’t imagine.  When he thought Sharron Angle was going to deny him re-election, I could understand but not respect him for his failure to show up the obstructionist senators. Now I can’t even understand him.

Kyl is pulling the football to protect us Americans. The treaty has the approval of a few lightweights in foreign policy, if Kyl’s position is to be given any credibility.  START is endorsed by the likes of former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former START negotiator Ambassador Linton Brooks.

These guys think it’s good for us, and the world, and Kyl knows better? That’s cow flop, pure and simple.

I don’t normally ascribe motives to politicians, at least not while I’m writing in public. But this is so obvious it’s obscene.  Kyl pulled a Lucy with the football for no reason other than to humiliate Obama in front of the entire international community. To cut him off at the knees.  To foster the Republican politicians’ prime objective, which in a moment of uncommon honesty, Mitch McConnell defined as making sure Obama is a one-term president.

No, we will not be safer under Kyl’s tender mercies.  Nor will our financial status be any better.  $84.1 billion for what? To make this entire country look like a bunch of blithering idiots, and Obama like a seven-year-old dope?

The rule used to be, back when a bunch of con men didn’t run the Republican party, that politics stopped at the water’s edge. You could slash and burn your opponents on domestic affairs all you wanted, but when it came to foreign relations, the U.S. spoke as one, and that one was the President of the United States.

I’m way past being angry on Obama’s behalf. If he doesn’t mind being humiliated, let him keep running at that football. I don’t even care that we’re closer to being the world’s greatest joke than the world’s greatest power.

What I care about is this: The Republicans are going to finish the job Obama’s predecessor (may his name be forgotten) and the same Republican Party we have now (about to become a bit less experienced, a bit dumber, and a bit worse) began in 2000 — destroying the American government and what used to be a sturdy economy.

We’re going to see the value of the dollar go down and prices go up. The price of anything imported or that contains imported parts — and what doesn’t contain imported parts? — will go sky high. A minuscule number of Americans will be able to live in comfort.  The rest of us will take in their laundry.

This is what we’ve voted for ourselves. It’s said that in a Democracy people get the government they deserve. Do you think you deserve this? And if not, what are you going to do about it? Just remember: Lucy’s got the ball.

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