The end of a good Matt Yglesias post on New START suggests one of the problems with analyzing events in progress:
Meanwhile, foreigners will wonder wtf has happened with US foreign policy and would-be proliferators will find their efforts somewhat boosted by the collapsing credibility of the disarmament process. And all for what? A cheap political talking point on a fourth-tier issue? A bit of extra pork?Well, here's the thing: those last two things are very different. If Republicans are doing the former ("cheap talking point on a fourth-tier issue") then they're horrible partisans: they're willing to hurt the national security of the United States for, basically, a tiny, tiny, political gain. On the other hand, if they're just using the occasion of a treaty ratification to squeeze out some pork, well, that's the normal functioning (for better or worse) of the American political system.
The thing is, if what they're up to is the former, they'll block the treaty; if it's the latter, they'll cut their best deal and move on. We don't know that yet; from their point of view, they should be playing it the same way so far either way. One of the challenges for reporters or bloggers writing about this stuff as it happens is to keep in mind that, often, we don't know the players' real goals while the game is still in motion.
[Update: Commenter ResumeMan points out that I misread Ygleisias's post. Oops. Regardless, my point is the same here, but Yglesias wasn't talking about the possibility of Kyl and others bargaining their votes in exchange for more defense spending; he was just talking about reasons for them voting down the treaty.]