Time was that when the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee declared it imperative to ratify a given treaty — any treaty — senators on both sides of the aisle would take heed.
But, then, time also was that politics was supposed to end at the waters' edge, too.
Apparently, both are equally quaint notions.
As I write this, Sen. Dick Lugar has a headline blasting on his Senate website reading, "Breaking Video: Lugar Demands New START," referring to the hoped-for passage of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Except no one seems to notice, or care.
The counsel of this Indiana Republican — a former chairman of the Foreign Relations panel so distinguished that his name is virtually synonymous with much of the major disarmament work of the last two decades or more — is being turned aside.
Instead, all eyes are on Jon Kyl, a Republican senator with no formal foreign-policy expertise and whose career registers just a fraction of that which Lugar could boast. (If Lugar was the sort to boast, which he is not.)
What Kyl is, however, is a wily and cunning politician eager to strike against this treaty on what appears largely partisan grounds.
There's no disagreement on the substance of the treaty, which pretty much falls in line with previous disarmament agreements with Russia championed by Republican presidents of the past.
Although the White House has publicly assured Kyl it would address whatever technical concerns he may have, the Arizona conservative has not budged.
No, it's become increasingly clear that Kyl simply wants to hurt President Obama.
Obama, after all, is the Nobel laureate for whom nuclear disarmament is a signature issue. How better for Kyl to ingratiate himself with the right-wing hordes who appear ascendant for the moment than to deny the president such an acheivement.