Rick Santorum Takes on Treaty for Disabled Kids
According to my Google Alerts, Monday's big Rick Santorum news (such as it is) was his declaration on Piers Morgan's talk show that he is "open" to another presidential run in 2016. We sort of knew that, though, and anyway it's 2012 right now; the speculation can wait. The real story is what he did with the rest of the day. Dana Milbank explains:
Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), declared his wish that the Senate reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities — a human rights treaty negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference.
The treaty, which is up for ratification in the Senate, has plenty of Republican support (Arizona Sen. John McCain backs it). But it's become a rallying cry on the far-right, where conservative Christian activists fear that it will water down American sovereignty and threaten families. As homeschooling activist Michael Farris put it in August, "My kid wears glasses, now they’re disabled, now the UN gets control over them; my child's got a mild case of ADHD, now you’re under control of the UN treaty."
The United Nations isn't really coming for your kids. As Milbank points out, the treaty exists mainly to nudge other countries a little closer the United States' standards. The irony here is that is Santorum's daughter Bella, who he brought with him to the press conference, is precisely the kind of special-needs child the treaty is designed to protect. But much like his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and its prohibition on denying access to people with expensive preexisting conditions, Santorum's paranoid fears of a Big-Brother takeover only serve to undermine policies that are designed to benefit families like his own.