Updated: January 8, 2013 6:22AM
Democrats must be chortling and rubbing their hands in glee — they got the Republican Party to shoot itself in the foot again.
The party that in the Nov. 6 election managed to alienate Hispanics, single women, young voters and African Americans can now add to that list Americans with disabilities. Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted down a U.N. treaty that would be meaningless to the United States but challenge the rest of the world to live up to American standards prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities.
I don’t know if Democrats called the treaty to a vote solely to show up Republicans but, if not, surely it was icing on the cake. Passage required a two-thirds approval and it lost on a 61-38 vote. Eight Republican senators, led by John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, backed the pact. Two expressed support for it but inexplicably ended up voting against it. If they and four other Republicans had voted yes, the treaty would have passed and the GOP wouldn’t have another public relations black eye. Actually, realizing they were walking into a trap, more should have voted yes or abstained.
Standing up for principle is one thing, but walking into a setup by your political foes is just folly. Today Democrats, liberals and their allies in the mainstream media are crowing about heartless Republicans throwing the cold shoulder to the disabled. Yes, I know the no vote was actively promoted by former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has a special-needs child. But in the end, the GOP senators voting no and Santorum only look small.
Yes, I understand the mistrust of the U.N. by many conservatives and the Tea Party. But the no vote was based on largely baseless arguments about the treaty constituting a potential abdication of sovereignty to the U.N., a threat to home schooling and an encroachment of international law into how American families care for disabled children.
Look, I share their contempt for the feckless, increasingly anti-West U.N. But this small-ball stuff is not the place to take on the egregious machinations of the U.N.
Better would be for Senate Republicans to lead an effort to exact retribution against the U.N. General Assembly for elevating the Palestinian Authority to observer state status. That constituted an affront to U.S. foreign policy, a rejection of the Oslo accords that are the only basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and encouragement for Palestinians and the Muslim world to continue to be intransigent to accepting Israel. The GOP should be advocating something like reducing U.S. financial aid to the U.N.
Or the GOP could take the lead in pushing the Obama administration to reverse its awful decision three years ago for the United States to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council. Far from being a protector of the oppressed, the council has shown itself with its preponderance of anti-Israel measures to be a cover for revolting anti-Semitism.
Or the GOP could lead the fight against growing sentiment among the authoritarian regimes so influential in the world body to impose restrictions and censorship on the Internet. A high-profile role here would raise Republican standing among America’s hyper-connected young people.
But no, Republican senators would rather let themselves be bamboozled by Democrats into a meaningless vote that only further isolates the party from modern society.