With the new Republican power in Washington, it is doubly important to keep a close eye on the doings of GOP senators and congressmen to spot those who are straying from orthodoxy, seduced by power and the insider clubiness that characterizes Washington.
In the lame-duck session, we want to draw attention to six Republican U.S. senators who voted with the Democrats on a key issue. We should all bear their apostasy in mind and, in particular, make them mindful of the possibility of primary challenges to their renomination.
Two senators, in particular, deserve to have primary challengers take them on in 2012 -- Tennessee's Bob Corker and Mississippi's Thad Cochran. Both men voted for the START Treaty, which conceded a permanent edge in nuclear weaponry to Russia. While the treaty provided for equal and reduced stockpiles of strategic warheads, it did nothing to address the vast piles of tactical nuclear warheads held by the Russians. The Russians have 10,000 of these battlefield nuclear weapons piled up in the stockpile, while we have only a few hundred.
In addition, START's preamble blocks the U.S. from developing missile defenses, now especially important in light of North Korea's and Iran's expanding capacities.
Both Corker and Cochran face re-election in 2012. They should both be challenged for the nomination by men who put our need for national security above appeasing the Russians. Having suppressed democracy, wiped out free speech, taken over all the media, nationalized their oil and energy industry, invaded Georgia, enabled the Iranian nuclear program and tried to establish a natural gas monopoly in Europe, what else does Vladimir Putin need to do before Corker and Cochran realize that appeasement won't work?
Corker's vote for START probably stems from the insider-old boy network on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on which he sits. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who also voted for START, sits alongside him on the Republican minority on the committee. Led by Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the panel, all three voted for START. Unfortunately, Isakson is not up for re-election until 2016. When he does come up for re-election, we hope that the citizens of Georgia's Republican Party hold him to account.
Lamar Alexander, also of Tennessee, backed START and faces re-election in 2014.
In a previous column, we called attention to the defections of Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho from the ranks of fiscal conservatives. Both Coburn and Crapo voted for the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission plan, which recommended cutting the deductions for home mortgages and charitable contributions by two-thirds for most taxpayers and urged the enactment of almost $1 trillion in new taxes.
Coburn and Crapo only announced their intention to endorse the commission report after they had been re-elected on Nov. 2, 2010. Now they are safe in their seats until 2016. But we hope to be still writing columns by then and will remind the voters of those two conservative states how ill served they were by their Republican senators.
So, who sold out?
Thad Cochran, Mississippi Bob Corker, Tennessee Mike Crapo, Idaho Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Johnny Isakson, Georgia