I’ve been wondering whether the new US-Russia nuclear pact is a cert for ratification (it needs 67 votes to get through the Senate). If this treaty (uncontroversial as it is) was rejected by Republicans, it would raise serious questions about whether the US can any longer be regarded as a coherent foreign policy actor.
Asked about this, President Obama sounds reasonably confident that all will run smoothly. He also has harsh words for Sarah Palin too, who has suggested that American citizens would ‘rise up’ against his ‘unbelievable’ and ‘unacceptable’ nuclear posture (great cartoon version of her oratory, here).
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you have no doubt you’re going to get the eight Republicans you need to ratify this treaty?
OBAMA: Well, you know, the — listen, I’ve now been in Washington for long enough that, for me to say I have no doubt (LAUGHS) about how the Senate operates would be foolish. I feel confident that leaders like Dick Lugar — who actually was somebody I worked very closely with when I was in the Senate on issues of bomb control — when they have had the opportunity to fully evaluate this treaty, [they] will come to the conclusion that this is in the best interest of the United States. But I will also say to those in the Senate who have questions, is that this is absolutely vital for us to deal with the broader issues of nuclear proliferation, that are probably the number one threat that we face in the future.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to some of those broader issues. Because you’re also facing criticism on that. Sarah Palin, taking aim at your decision to restrict the use of nuclear weapons. Your pledge not to strike nations, non-nuclear nations, who abide by the nonproliferation treaty. Here’s what she said. She said, “It’s unbelievable, no other administration would do it.” And then she likened it to kids on the playground. She said you’re like a kid who says, “Punch me in the face, and I’m not going to retaliate.” Your response?
OBAMA: I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the string of criticism has been out there among other Republicans as well. They think you’re restricting use of nuclear weapons too much.
OBAMA: And what I would say to them is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But not concerned about her criticisms?