If one is disabled in any way, the US is among one of the best countries to live, as long as one is not poor. Thank to the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, it is much easier for disabled people to work and live productive lives here than in many parts of the world.
So you would think that when the United Nations adopts a treaty (the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) that is based on this legislation in order to try and extend these practices to the entire world, that the US would be proud to ratify it, especially since 155 countries have already signed it, 126 have ratified it, and it would require no changes to US law.
You would be wrong. Ratification of treaties requires a two-thirds majority in the US senate or 66 votes and they were able to muster only 61 with 38 members, all Republicans, voting against despite pleas from prominent past Republican president like George H. W. Bush urging them to vote in favor.
Why? Because of the usual paranoid fantasies of the Republican base that this was part of a plan to surrender US sovereignty to the UN and that homeschoolers in the US would suddenly be ordered to do things by UN bureaucrats. The execrable Rick Santorum supplied one more piece of lunacy by suggesting that the treaty might call for his own disabled daughter to die. You can see more examples of the unhinged rhetoric here.
Perhaps what was saddest was to see the clearly ailing Bob Dole, a longtime member of the Republican senate and their former leader and presidential candidate, making the difficult journey to the senate floor and appealing to his colleagues to do the right thing and being rejected.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report chronicled this shameful chapter.
(These clips appeared on December 5, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)