By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Republicans find another group to alienate: the disabled

Bob Dole in 2008. Photo (cc) by Kevin Rofidal and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Bob Dole in 2008. Photo (cc) by Kevin Rofidal and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

It’s hard to imagine a more disgraceful moment for the modern Republican Party.

The Senate was voting on whether to accept a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled — a treaty that was reportedly modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the great accomplishments of President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.

Former Republican senator Bob Dole, 89, sitting in a wheelchair, was on hand to lend his support. Dole, of course, was disabled long before old age rendered him a wheelchair-user — a consequence of his heroism in World War II.

And Republican senators voted against the treaty, 38-8. Not a single Democrat voted against it. Sixty-one senators were in favor — five short of the two-thirds needed.

We in Massachusetts, at least, can hold our heads high: Sen. Scott Brown was among the hardy band of Republicans who voted in favor. And Democratic Sen. John Kerry delivered what the New York Times called “his most impassioned speech all year” in urging his fellow senators to approve the treaty.

After losing the election in part because they alienated African-Americans, Latinos, gay men and lesbians, you would think that Republicans wouldn’t be looking for another group to infuriate.

You would be wrong.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Talking about “Truth in Journalism” in Wayland


For the Cape Cod Times, the beginning of the trail


  1. Hunter Brumfield in Tokyo

    Thanks, Dan

    They didn’t alienate me, because they lost me a long, long time ago. I live in Japan where the attention to the needs of the disabled far outstrip the puny efforts in the US. A stroke can hit ANYONE. So it’s not a matter of giving and taking — it’s a matter of humane decency. Period.

  2. Reblogged this on Gimp Stories and commented:
    I find myself speechless……still.

  3. Bill Bradford

    We need procedural reform in the Senate. This is ludicrous.

    • Patrick McNamara

      No, Mr. Bradford – all we NEED to do is get rid of the backward RepubliKLAN that have stunk up both Houses of Congress long enough and polluted the national discourse.

  4. FWIW, it had nothing to do with the disabled, but a lot to do with the UN. Conservatives – and I use that word deliberately, as there is overlap but they are far to the right of most Republicans whom they call RINOs – want the US out of the UN period, and regarded this as the ‘thin end of the wedge’ by exploiting an appealing cause in order to further entangle us with the UN as a whole. The whole Agenda 21 crowd – extreme isolationists – were calling Rand Paul a traitor for speaking well of the treaty! I asked how they would feel about a Commission (study group) rather than a Committee (part of UN infrastructure) and there was more acceptance except from the hard-line A-21 members.

    And I disagree with DK’s statement that it was ‘Republicans’. That would be like me saying the ‘9/11 was an inside job’ crowd and the fringes of Occupy, or the various tax cheats among the Dems represent mainstream Democrats.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Cynthia: Thirty-eight elected Republican members of the United States Senate are members of a fringe group? OK. You said it.

      • This is a great time to plug this masterpiece of data visualization from Randall Munroe:
        which illustrates the partisan and ideological makeup of Congress from 1789 until now.

        Among many other things, you can see from this graphic that it’s not just the most extreme members of the Senate Republican caucus that comprise those 38.

      • When I consider the primaries they had to go through, it’s becoming more true. My A-21 friends are actively organizing to defeat any attempt by Scott Brown to run again, and will primary him if he tries. They TRULY see no difference between him and Warren.

        We need closed primaries – when you look at stats, there are about twice as many GOP primary voters as there are registered GOP’s – and my A-21 friends refuse to register GOP as they consider both parties equally tainted. They view the GOP as a convenience for ballot access, a charade that must be performed, for them to get across the REAL agenda. Which has little to do with the ‘establishment Republicans’ they complain about, aka the actual party.

  5. Patricia Bennett

    I realize this is an emotional subject and for me especially since a loved one lived severely disabled, but getting past the talking points – why should we? Look the UN is not exactly a trustworthy organization – just look at the Human Rights panel. Here in the USA, as well as many other countries, we do honor and protect and assist the disabled, and we are right to do so. But involving the UN and making this an international treaty opens up a whole other can of worms which should not be taken lightly. But it makes for good talking points which I feel this is being used for.

  6. Rich Carreiro

    If the treaty neither made nor required new law (as Democrats claim), then what horrible thing was done by not ratifying it?

    Seems like you pearl-clutchers want to have your cake and eat it, too.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén