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Defeat of treaty on disabled was a sad moment for Senate

Published: Fri, December 14, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a dec- orated war hero who was one of the architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, was wheeled onto the Senate floor to ask his former colleagues for support in ratifying an international treaty to protect the rights of the disabled worldwide.

Over the last six years, 124 nations have ratified the treaty. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was negotiated by the George W. Bush administration and he signed it as president in 2006. It was modeled after the ADA, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, and which made this nation a pioneer in recognizing the role that government can play in making the lives of disabled people better and more productive.

There was a day when Sen. Dole’s appearance would have been a mere formality, an opportunity to recognize the role that an elder statesman played in changing the lives of a generation of Americans who must cope with disabilities.

Times have changed

But now, in the politically poisoned atmosphere of 2012, Dole was there to plead for a handful of votes that would be needed to give the treaty the two-thirds margin it would need for passage.

Also on the Senate floor was another former member, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who made an impassioned call for rejection of the treaty. Santorum, the father of a disabled daughter, claimed that this treaty, if ratified, might somehow, someday be used to interfere with the rights of American families to home school their disabled children. Santorum came to this conclusion through a tortured reading of a simple sentence in the treaty that says, “In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” Santorum characterized this as “offensive.”

Dole, a former majority leader who is now 89, had been quoted in the Washington Post as saying that the United States is “the world’s leader in disability progress, and this would give us a seat at the table.” He added, “We’d be able to help other countries, because some of the smaller countries are going to need some help.”

All things being equal — that is that both Dole and Santorum are Republicans, — one would think Dole’s argument would carry the day. Not these days.

Toxic phrase

The very words “United Nations” have become so toxic among some conservatives Republicans that nothing associated with the U.N. will get their support. On one hand, they complain that the U.N. accomplishes nothing; on the other they hypothesize that the U.N. is going to preempt the U.S. Constitutions in matters of parental rights or gun ownership or environmental policy.

Remarkably, only eight Republican senators found Dole persuasive. Thirty-eight, including Ohio’s Rob Portman, fell in line behind Santorum.

It was a sad day for the United States, which wants to project itself as a champion of the oppressed, the disadvantaged and the challenged. It was a sadder day for a party that had an opportunity to reaffirm this nation’s commitment to disabled people here and abroad, but chose instead to cower in fear of metaphoric black helicopters that could descend from the clouds over America cities, snatch up home-schooled children and take them away.


1Photoman(1249 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The United States of America would be much better off without the United Nations. The U.N. is of little accomplishment, is a heavy financial burden upon us and is rapidly becoming controlled by those who are hostile to our nation and our objectives.

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2ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I appreciate the fact that the Vindy has chosen to highlight ADA and the good it's accomplished. But as the parent of a disabled child, I would give credence to what another parent of a disabled child told me.

My experience over the years has been that parents are the best source of accurate information regarding their disabled children.

Just because you may disagree with Mr. Santorum's politics, don't lightly dismiss his opinion on this issue.

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3ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago


My comments had nothing to do with Republicans v. Democrats - and your tirade condemning a loving parent of a disabled child (me) is laughable.

Maybe you should try walking in the shoes of someone else before you criticize.

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4ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago


Psychological projection is a
psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable
thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings, and so on onto someone else (usually
another person.

You must have a pretty miserable view of yourself and life. I feel sorry for you.

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5ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

You finally realize just how pathetic and miserable you are... S***BAG!

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6youngspartanrepublican(92 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Why the outrage? This is the U.N. We already have the ADA. There is no need for us to ratify the UN treaty. We make our own laws here. But, having seen the videos of the editorial board, it doesn't surprise me that they would use this to bash Republicans. After all, the one guy wants the fairness doctrine brought back, and Bertram is on it as well...

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7GoPens(397 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

It's clear that the "new" Republican Party/Teabaggers hate disabled people.

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8jojuggie(1729 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

gdog is not a debater. When he differs with you, you are a scumbag. He uses vile language & poor grammar. He probably wants to feel superior, to other posters, on this message board, so he feels that using poor language will accomplish his needs. Very sad.

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