Here's both my qualifier and my bona fides for the opinion that follows: I earned my Republican stripes working for a GOP U.S. senator, for Ronald Reagan's first successful presidential campaign and for Newt Gingrich.
Since those days, I've occasionally branched out and suggested some policy or position that doesn't reflexively mirror some bedrock conservative outlook. Often some readers of this column, whom I deeply respect and appreciate, will call me out for this or that view by dismissing me as a "RINO" -- a "Republican in Name Only."
Of late, some of my friends are being labeled RINOs because they voted to approve the START anti-nuclear weapons pact with Russia. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., did so following private briefings the rest of us weren't privileged to hear.
Isakson is such a RINO that he chose to first run for the Georgia state legislature as a Republican in 1974. That's when Richard Nixon had all but destroyed the Republican Party, and Democrats still ruled Georgia as all but a one-party state. To this day, Isakson's ratings as a conservative are almost always near the top.
Now he and a dozen of his fellow Republican senators, including a former presidential candidate, have chosen to act in good faith and sober reflection to pass a treaty to help limit nuclear arms. Even many of their detractors can't seem to fully articulate why they find fault with this.
Doubtless the treaty has warts. It makes little difference to me. In my years overseas in the advanced study of international relations, I learned foremost about treaties that they are made to be broken. Remember the Camp David Accords of Jimmy Carter? They were useful, even admirable. But they have hardly paved a road to a permanently peaceful Middle East.
I'd love for some of the conservatives who revere the Federalist Papers to actually pick up a copy of that body of work and read it. They might be startled to learn that the constitutional framers sagaciously designed America's lawmaking process to include a U. S. Senate that was elected not by direct vote by the people, but by state legislatures. This ensured that excessive public passions didn't drive the making of important laws and policies. I still believe the 17th Amendment, which provides for the direct election of senators, to be one of the most damaging political actions in our nation's history.