Lugar to GOP: ‘Please do your duty for your country’

LUGAR TO GOP: ‘PLEASE DO YOUR DUTY FOR YOUR COUNTRY’…. The pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START, has no greater Republican champion than Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana. Lugar, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been Congress’ most respected and most credible GOP voice on international affairs, and his unyielding support for the measure should carry considerable weight in Republican circles.

What I find especially interesting this week, however, has been Lugar’s willingness to raise the volume of that voice. On Wednesday, the mild-mannered-to-a-fault senator appeared at a press conference alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and was surprisingly animated about the importance of ratification.

Yesterday, Lugar appeared on MSNBC, and again made his case in a more forceful way than is usually expected of him.

“Please do your duty for your country,” Lugar said in a message to his colleagues. “We do not have verification of the Russian nuclear posture right now. We’re not going to have it until we sign the START treaty. We’re not going to be able to get rid of further missiles and warheads aimed at us.

“I state it candidly to my colleagues, one of those warheads … could demolish my city of Indianapolis — obliterate it! Now Americans may have forgotten that. I’ve not forgotten it and I think that most people who are concentrating on the START treaty want to move ahead to move down the ladder of the number of weapons aimed at us.”

Urging Republicans to “do their duty” for their country is good advice. If only they weren’t so inclined to place party over patriotism.

Watching Lugar this week, it seems the quiet, reserved senior senator is just frustrated. I don’t know Lugar personally, but seeing his passion on New START, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s noticing that he seems to be the only Republican senator on the Hill who isn’t afraid to put our national security needs over petty, partisan nonsense.

For the record, on the vast majority of the major issues of the day, I completely disagree with Lugar’s positions. The way in which he’s conducted himself during this debate, however, is a reminder that Lugar may be well to my right, but he tends to conduct himself in an honorable way.

Congress would be a less infuriating institution if we could say the same about his Republican colleagues.