PolitiFact Blames Obama for GOP Failure to Ratify UN Disability Treaty

Promise Broken! Announces PolitiFact.

President Obama said he would sign the UN Disability Treaty but the Republicans blocked it, so it’s a broken Obama promise on the “Obamameter”.

Here’s the “broken promise”:

“As president, Barack Obama will renew America’s leadership by making the United States a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the first human rights treaty approved by the UN in the 21st century and a vital foundation for respecting the rights of people with disabilities worldwide He will urge the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention expeditiously.”

Never mind that former President Bush negotiated the Disability treaty, Republicans voted no on it because you know, there’s nothing they won’t vote no on in order to make Obama look bad, even when voting yes is clearly the only morally right thing to do. The Treaty basically says you can’t discriminate against the disabled and that the disabled are entitled to the same freedoms as other citizens. This shouldn’t be too difficult, especially for a Party that allegedly supports our troops, many of whom return from war disabled.

No matter, the Republicans blithely walked by 89 year old former Senator Bob Dole in his wheelchair and still voted no.

Republicans cited concerns over passing something in a lame duck session. If this had any merit, then Governor Rick Snyder’s Republican legislature in Michigan wouldn’t be shoving Right to Work legislation down Michiganders’ throats during a lame duck session, especially since their legislation was brand new (ostensibly, though modeled on the Wisconsin legislation, but new in the sense that for years Snyder has been saying he had no intention of introducing Right to Work laws), not offered for debate, and by all accounts not open to public debate.

Whereas, the Disability Treaty was already negotiated under Bush, signed by Obama in July of 2009, and modeled on the United States” Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, the treaty already gained consideration last month in a 61-36 vote.

Republicans also cited concerns over the state having authority over parents (and yet, Republicans want authority over women’s doctors) and then there was the usual GOP UN freak out. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said this could lead to abortion freedom for the disabled and Sen. Jim Inhofe, (R-Ok) said, “I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

Of course, the treaty does not necessitate any change to U.S. law. We already have the Americans With Disability Act, upon which the UN Treaty is based. The purpose is to enhance the rights of the disabled around the globe, and to protect American citizens including our troops who are overseas.

Republican Senator John McCain, a supporter of the treaty who sees it as the right thing to do for our disabled veterans, pointed out that since the 1970s, the Senate has voted to approve treaties 19 times during lame duck sessions. He also called baloney on his Republican colleagues’ arguments that the treaty affects U.S. abortion laws bad politics and wrong, “With respect to abortion, this is a disabilities treaty and has nothing to do with abortion. Trying to turn this into an abortion debate is bad politics and just wrong.”

All Democrats voted yes, and 8 Republicans joined them.

So, the President’s own party supported the treaty, but it’s a broken promise because he couldn’t make Republicans give a crap about the disabled.

Here’s PolitFact’s logic:

Even though Obama has signed the convention and forwarded it to the Senate, and even though his party unanimously supported it in the Senate, our rules do not allow us to call this a Promise Kept until the treaty is ratified. However, since treaties, unlike bills and other legislative measures, remain available to the Senate from one Congress to the next, it could be considered again, and when the new Congress convenes, the Democrats will see their caucus increase by two members. For now, though, we rate this a Promise Broken.

Fact-checkers like PolitFact offer a valuable service to the public. Their stated goal is “PolitiFact.com is a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help you find the truth in Washington and the Obama presidency.” It’s a real shame when their “rules” force them to undermine that purpose by misleading the public in this way. While they do a good job of explaining what actually happened, when people want to read about promises kept and broken, they often read the general list and not the detailed explanation. Furthermore, this will be cited by the media as a broken Obama promise because PolitiFact said so, and thus further misinform the public.

Given the historical obstruction of the Republican Party under President Obama, PolitiFact should consider creating a new section: Promises kept but blocked by Republicans. That would be a real public service and provide needed education about how our government is actually operating.

After all, calling this a promise broken is quite simply daft. It serves to aid and abet obstructionism rather than keep a true record of the facts, and makes PolitiFact look a bit of the willing tool of the Republican Party’s games.

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