The most common foreign policy refrain we hear from the Rethugs is a loud, chest thumping rendition of “American Exceptionalism” (ironically, a term coined by the American Communist Party in the 1920s during their factional disputes). Like its predecessor, “Manifest Destiny” the message is straightforward: Because of our superior values, based on liberty and democracy and embodied in our very governmental structure, God chose America to lead humanity to a better world.
Anyone making such a claim would be expected to walk the talk, to lead by example. The US Senate had a perfect opportunity to do just that last week by ratifying The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. The Convention, negotiated by George H.W. Bush and signed by Bush the Lesser, is modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act and would provide the world’s disabled the same freedom of mobility that US citizens enjoy today.
In a dramatic attempt to impress upon the Senators the moral and historical importance of the issue, former senator, presidential candidate, and crippled war veteran, Bob Dole, was wheeled onto the Senate floor from a D.C. hospital. Frail but willing to fight one last battle on behalf of a cause he spent over six decades championing, he was positioned on the Senate floor in such way that each GOP senator had to pass by him on the way to their seats. They were all glad to see him, shaking his only functioning hand, smiling as he implored them for their votes. When the last senator had filed by, his wife, Liddy, also a former senator and one-time head of the Red Cross, wheeled him off the floor before the formal debate and vote began.
As for what happened next, cue The Temptations singing Smiling Faces Sometimes:
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I’m telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
When the votes were tallied, all the Democratic senators voted aye, while only 8 GOPers (including John McCain) did. Meaning 38 found it in their cold, cold hearts to vote nay. Because treaties require 67 votes, it died right there on the Senate floor.
CBS News tries to explain why:
Among the opponents of the treaty were former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee led opposition among conservative senators to the treaty, which he suggested posed a threat to American sovereignty. Santorum argued that the treaty could change U.S. law or be used as a standard in court cases, despite the fact that only U.S. law can be the basis for litigation in American courtrooms.
… Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., voted against the treaty because he said he opposes “cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society,” the Associated Press reported. Critics suggested the treaty could prevent home-schooling parents from making their own decisions concerning disabled children and that it could increase abortions worldwide.
Gail Collins zooms in on the bogus home schooling angle and other inanities:
The theory about the treaty on the disabled is that the bit about “best interests of the child” could be translated into laws prohibiting disabled children from being home-schooled. At his press conference, Santorum acknowledged that wasn’t in the cards. But he theorized that someone might use the treaty in a lawsuit “and through the court system begin to deny parents the right to raise their children in conformity with what they believe.”
Or a boilerplate mention in the treaty of economic, social and cultural rights that Senator Mike Lee of Utah claimed was “part of a march toward socialism.”
Uh, what? Would someone see if any of that makes sense in any of the languages spoken by the 126 countries who have already ratified, and have actually read, the treaty? I mean, who’d a thunk that the home school movement had accrued so much power as to sink international treaties.
Gail concludes with these observations on the cancer that is consuming the GOP:
There would almost certainly have been plenty of votes to approve the treaty if the Republicans had felt free to think for themselves. The “no” votes included a senator who had voted for the treaty in committee, a senator who had sent out a press release supporting the treaty and a senator who actually voted “aye” and then switched when it was clear the treaty was going down anyway. Not to mention a lot of really depressed-looking legislators.
The big worry was, of course, offending the Tea Party. The same Tea Party that pounded Mitt Romney into the presidential candidate we came to know and reject over the past election season. The same Tea Party that keeps threatening to wage primaries against incumbents who don’t do what they’re told. The Tea Party who made those threats work so well in the last election that Indiana now has a totally unforeseen Democratic senator.
The threat the Republicans need to worry about isn’t in the United Nations.
IOW, the inmates are still very much in control of the asylum.
[Image found here.]