Fred Kaplan has a good article summing up the political results of the treaty debate:
And so the Republican leadership made this a purely political battle and—fresh off what had seemed a triumphant election season—suffered an astonishingly egregious defeat.
It is extremely doubtful, for instance, that the Obama administration will ever again bargain over national-security issues with Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the minority whip.
For reasons that nobody can quite explain, Kyl had managed in the past few years to cut a profile as the “go-to” Republican on all matters nuclear. The conventional wisdom was that if Kyl endorsed the treaty, it would pass; if he didn’t, it wouldn’t.
And so, the White House and the Pentagon sent high-level emissaries to Kyl’s lair during the Senate’s recess to negotiate a deal, offering, among other enticements, an extra $4 billion, on top of the $80 billion already committed over the next decade, to “modernize” the nuclear-weapons infrastructure.
Kyl took the goodies but came out against the treaty anyway. So Obama and his aides did something no legislative powerhouse should ever let happen—they went around him, treating him as just another senator, and they won.
Kyl limps away from this face-off gravely wounded—a leader unable to deliver either on his promises or on his threats.
Assuming that the treaty is ratified as expected, there are several gratifying outcomes here. Most important, a treaty important to American national security will be ratified despite the often ignorant and at times flat-out dishonest opposition of people speaking for no more than 20-30% of the country. It is not all that often that sound policy and public opinion are on the same side, so it’s worth noting when it happens. Sound policy seems to have prevailed over hawkish demagoguery. Kyl’s gambit to run out the clock seems to have failed, and the automatic deference afforded to him on these issues after he orchestrated the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is most likely at an end.
The side of the debate championed by Romney, Palin, Thune, Santorum, and Bolton has lost, and the virtually unanimous opposition to the treaty from movement conservative leaders, think tanks, and magazines has been ignored. For once, deceit and fearmongering did not win the day in a foreign policy argument. More substantively, U.S.-Russian relations will not be disrupted, our allies in Europe will continue to see their security enhanced by the thaw between Washington and Moscow, and inspections of Russia’s arsenal will resume to our benefit. The harm to U.S. credibility and diplomacy that I had feared would result from the treaty’s defeat will not materialize. All in all, this should prove to be a very good week for the United States and our allies.