The Democrats’ Treaty Slump

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WASHINGTON — To Walter B. Slocombe, there was something hauntingly familiar about the political sinkhole President Obama found himself in last week.

As a Pentagon official in the 1970s, Mr. Slocombe was part of President Jimmy Carter’s team pushing the Senate to ratify an arms control treaty with Moscow. Skeptical of the Kremlin, worried about the impact on American security and sensing weakness in the White House, Republicans blocked the treaty.

More than 30 years later, another Democratic president faces a Senate roadblock to a nuclear treaty with Russia at a moment of political weakness. The times are radically different both here and in Moscow, of course, and it remains to be seen whether Mr. Obama’s so-called New Start treaty will ultimately meet the same fate as Mr. Carter’s Salt II pact. But in some ways, history seems to be repeating itself. “The Republicans thought they smelled blood,” Mr. Slocombe said. “It’s déjà vu all over again.”...

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