Lesson on leadership: George W. Bush was right to support treaty for those with disabilities
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 06, 2012 | 4297 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former President George W. Bush holds up a book as he gives opening remarks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas for a conference titled "Immigration and 4% Growth: How Immigrants grow the U.S. Economy." Photo: LM Otero/Associated Press
Former President George W. Bush holds up a book as he gives opening remarks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas for a conference titled "Immigration and 4% Growth: How Immigrants grow the U.S. Economy." Photo: LM Otero/Associated Press
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George W. Bush is back on these pages for a second day in a row. Call him Bush the Barometer, a handy guide to how far one side of the political equation has slid off the deep end.

In Thursday’s offering, we reminded Republicans how the former president was a measured and tolerant voice amid a sea of his fellow Republicans itching to amp up the rhetoric against illegal immigrants.

Today, he’s back for a lesson on U.S. leadership. Or better explained, an illustration of how too many elected Republicans in Washington are prone to tinfoil-hat conspiracies.

In 2006, the Bush administration completed international negotiations on a treaty, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Bush approved the treaty, which was modeled on a 1990 U.S. law, the Americans with Disabilities Act. That 22-year-old law, we’ll note, was signed by another Republican president, George H.W. Bush.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the U.N. treaty. All that was lacking was approval of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. A simple vote would affirm that the United States was joining the other 125 nations who are, in effect, affirming the wisdom of the pioneering Americans with Disabilities Act.

Not so fast there, cowboy.

Tuesday’s vote fell short of the two-thirds mark, meaning that 38 Republican U.S. senators rejected the treaty. The appeal in favor of the treaty from a wheelchair-bound Bob Dole, a former Republican senator from Kansas and the GOP’s 1996 presidential candidate, wasn’t enough to convince the dissenters, among whom we can count Alabama’s Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

The so-called reasoning behind the opposition wasn’t really all that new. It’s rooted in ancient fears and false patriotism. This treaty will take away U.S. sovereignty. Or it will forcibly separate disabled children from their parents. Or it will place Americans under the boot heel of some foreign overlord.

It doesn’t matter that this nonsense has been debunked. It doesn’t matter that in this instance, the world is following the lead of the United States. It doesn’t matter because the senators who voted down the treaty have a greater concern. Namely, they must appease the religious conservatives who strongly opposed the treaty.

Seems like there must be a better course. After all, George W. Bush was on very friendly terms with the religious right while in the Oval Office. Yet, he managed to maintain that standing and promote a treaty that sought greater accommodations for disabled people.
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