I wish I could say that I was surprised that the Senate didn’t do the right thing despite the appearance and support of a nearly 90-year-old Bob Dole who not only dedicated his life to public service, but did so with significant disabilities because of the fact that he very nearly gave up his life fighting for this country in World War II.
I wish I could say that I was surprised, but I’m not. Nothing surprises me anymore about the Senate or the House, particularly in this 112th Congress. I’m hoping that enough was done in November to, for a lack of a better term, flush the waste out of the Capitol so that the 113th Congress can get some good things done for our country.
It just makes me angry now. It makes me angry that these are our representatives. It makes me angry that 38 United States Senators voted against ratifying a treaty that was basically an international version of our own American With Disabilities Act. The United Nations modeled the treaty after the ADA in order to urge people around the world to take care of and no discriminate against people with disabilities. And after frail, wheelchair bound Bob Dole made an appearance in support of the treaty’s ratification, he was wheeled out of the Senate chamber and 38 American Senators said no.
Thirty-eight American Senators opposed that treaty while Arizona Senator John McCain, who spent nearly six years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison and can’t even raise his arm into the air to be recognized by the presiding officer, sat in that chamber. I can’t even imagine how Senator McCain can caucus with those Senators in the future and work together with them. I can’t understand it.
38. Thirty-eight Senators rejected that treaty while Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye was in the chamber. Senator Inouye is 88 years old and disabled. Do you know why Senator Inouye is disabled? BECAUSE HE LEFT HIS ARM ON A HILLSIDE IN ITALY FIGHTING FOR HIS COUNTRY. That was after he had already been shot in the stomach attacking a German bunker. A German grenade blew his right arm off of his body as Inouye prepared to toss his own grenade. Do you know what happened when Daniel Inouye’s arm was blown off of his body? He reached down with the arm he had left, pulled the grenade that he was about to throw out of the closed hand of his severed right arm, and then he finished the job that he had started, tossed the grenade at the Germans, and kept shooting with the arm he had left until he passed out. Thirty-eight of Senator Inouye’s colleagues rejected an international treaty protecting the rights of people like Inouye as he sat there.
It’s shameful. After the vote, John Kerry (another American who served his country and was wounded in combat, by the way) said it was “one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate and it needs to be a wake-up call about a broken institution that’s letting down the American people.” I couldn’t agree more with Senator Kerry except for one thing: rejecting this treaty lets down the people of the world — 700 million of whom are disabled.
Thirty-eight United States Senators should be ashamed of themselves and their constituents should be disgusted by their representation. Shame on you, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Dan Coats of Indiana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah (who took the lead in opposing the treaty’s ratification), Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. If I were running the DSCC, I would target all 38 of you in your next campaigns and lay your vote for the rejection of this treaty’s ratification on your doorstep every night so that you step in it every morning and drag it with you every time that you speak to a veterans organization or a group of people with disabilities or a senior citizen. I’d add “go to hell”, but with the 112th Congress in charge, I’m not positive that we aren’t already there.
Oh, I’d say right after then-Texas Governor George W. Bush kicked his ass something fierce during the 2000 Republican primaries. In 2000, McCain got his hopes up because the whole “maverick/Straight Talk Express” stuff worked nicely in New Hampshire, but that shit didn’t play down South, especially once the Bush campaign got nasty. McCain may have spent five years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison camp, but he wasn’t conditioned for the monumental beatdown he took in South Carolina courtesy of Karl Rove and the Bush campaign.
It wasn’t anything for anyone to be proud of — in fact, the Bush campaign did some repugnant, borderline (if not outright) racist things and played to the worst fears of the historically reactionary South Carolinians, but it was after that 2000 South Carolina primary that John McCain realized what it took to win his party’s nomination.
Plus, John McCain is a 76-year-old man and you’d probably be cranky, too, if your plane had been shot down and then got the shit kicked out of you so regularly for five years at the Hanoi Hilton that you can’t raise your arms above your head. Physically, it’s obviously an issue. But think about the emotional scars of always having to be the “M” when you and your friends do the Village People’s “YMCA” at karaoke. (Too soon?)
On top of all that, just imagine that you are John McCain. Really, imagine it. You are John McCain and you wake up every morning and look in the mirror and think about all of the adversity you overcame. All of the things I mentioned earlier — the war injuries, the lengthy time as a POW, the personal attacks. You have moved forward and leaped over many of the obstacles you faced. You bounced back from the disastrous 2000 Republican primaries and, despite your age, became the 2008 Republican Presidential nominee — winning that nomination so much more easily than anyone expected. You stand at your mirror thinking about how far you, John McCain, have come — how much you’ve grown. Look at what you’ve accomplished! Look at what you’ve become!
And then it begins. It begins with a single, solitary tear rolling down your Dr. Evil-looking head. That tear is followed by heavier, old-man-tears; thick, watery globules of sadness and loss. You’re breathing heavily, gasping for air because you are so overcome by a constrictive feeling that you’ve learned is a potent mixture of shame and disappointment — as if the chemicals and tissues that make up who you are have taken on a life of their own and decided to try to strangle you where you stand. What you are doing can only be described in one way — sobbing. You, John McCain, are sobbing. The tears falling and the pained moans seemingly escaping from the depths of your broken heart cause you to hyperventilate. You must sit down, splash water on your face, close your eyes for a few minutes. You try to control those emotions with the breathing exercises you’ve been taught. Sometimes it takes two-to-three hours for you to leave your bedroom. Sometimes, it seems as if nobody will be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, so you just pull the heavy, black velvet curtains over your bedroom windows and sleep.
But you will wake up, John McCain. And you’ll go into your bathroom and look in your mirror, and it will all begin again, just as it does three or four times a day. Your lip will quiver, your hands will shake, those ever-present tears will rush to flood your eyes, and you’ll scream at yourself, “WHY DID YOU NOMINATE HER? YOU BLEW IT! YOU FUCKING BLEW IT!!!”
And that might explain what’s happened to John McCain — why, in between the tears and the gasps for breath, you hear him angrily mutter the words “Hockey Mom” and “Fuck Alaska”. If after a lifetime of service, when you were making your bid for the White House, and you stupidly nominated Sarah Palin to be your Vice President…well, you might be cranky, too.
I think McCain would have been beaten if he chose Abraham Lincoln as his running mate. Obama just had too much momentum by August 2008 and McCain would have been done in by what happened with the economy (and his reaction to what happened to the economy) in September, no matter what.
Do I think Palin was a mistake? Absolutely. She gave McCain some life in the days after her nomination and, I’m sorry but it’s true, she was awesome at the Republican National Convention. When I watched her speech in Saint Paul, I thought to myself, “Uh-oh”. Then, over the next few days and weeks, I was relieved to find out that she completely out of her element and profoundly unqualified to even be Governor of Alaska, let alone Vice President of the United States.
The biggest mistake that McCain made by choosing Sarah Palin was giving her a national profile. McCain should be drummed out of the Senate just on principle for elevating Sarah Palin to the level where there are Americans who truly, genuinely, unbelievably, stupidly support her for President in 2012.
As I said, “more experienced” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person would be a better President, and the best examples of that are Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover.
With McCain and Obama, I think it’s still too early to tell, but I tend to think McCain would have been less effective than Obama right now because Obama’s forced to deal with a terrible Congress but McCain would be forced to deal with a terrible Congress that is also dominated by the opposition party.
Only in recent history has the Vice Presidency become such an important position. While it has always been necessary to think about who would best balance the ticket politically and geographically with the Presidential nominee, it’s only been since Nixon’s resignation that we’ve really seen the Vice President as someone who could very likely succeed to the Presidency as had happened twice in ten years in 1974.
Because of that reason, I think that Obama’s Vice Presidential choice (and McCain’s choice, as well) in 2008 was more important than any other Presidential candidates choices. The Obama and McCain picks were important for two different reasons: Obama because of his inexperience and McCain because of his age. Both issues were equally worrisome for the electorate in 2008 and the Vice Presidential picks needed to address those issues, which is why I think the Obama/Biden team was a great solution. Well, that, and because Sarah Palin is a complete idiot and a foolish human being.
I think the only Vice Presidential pick that might have been comparable in importance was George W. Bush’s pick in 2000. Bush had a bit more experience than Obama when he first ran for President, but his proficiency in foreign policy was suspect and the public perception of that was worsened by his inability to name certain world leaders early in the campaign for the Republican nomination. In retrospect, Bush’s selection was even more important as he chose Dick Cheney, the most powerful Vice President in American History, and the catalyst for the Bush Doctrine and American foreign policy in the 2000s.