Dick Lugar is no moderate Republican. He was dubbed “Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor,” back when he ran Indianapolis in the ’70s, and Ronald Reagan’s most reliable supporter in the US Senate, back in the ’80s. As he grayed and thickened, Lugar became more statesmanlike, chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Most notably, he paired with the conservative Democrat Sam Nunn of Georgia to push through legislation to tie down “loose nukes,” the bombs and nuclear fuel rods that were split among the republics of the former Soviet Union.
It’s hard to imagine a more important effort: Each of the 7,500 warheads it has so far deactivated could have become a terrorist weapon of mass destruction. The Nunn-Lugar program so impressed a young senator named Barack Obama that he insisted it would be the most urgent priority of his presidency.