The Rachel Maddow Show | December 04, 2012
>> today's protest took place this morning. the american public transit association is holding their annual convention.
>> i don't care if you're in a wheelchair. you don't run into me.
>> they were seeking a man day-to-day for all cities with a public transit system to install wheelchair access . the association opposes this plan.
>> they insisted on taking the train or the bus even when the law said they had no such right. except for their bravery that led them to take that stand, they were just regular people . jack warren, who was hauled by police off a city bus on may 19th , 1986 . she was hauled off that bus and arrested for the crime of insisting that he should be allowed to ride with everybody else . even though he had a disability and even though he had mobility issues. he was part of a group called "adapt." they were founded in denver in 1983 . they are active in cities across the u.s. back then and still now in some cities this footage comes from san francisco in 1986 . activists in wheelchairs facing down city buss and police officers chaining themselves to the bus wheels, knowing they would be arrested. nothing says asking to pay your fare just like everybody else . pressured by those protests and these activists making their case, it was papa bush who signed the americans with disability act. it was a huge leap forward. it's why we have wheelchair lifts on buss now and curb cuts and sidewalks and instructions in braille on atms. it's why you can bring a service dog with you everywhere. the americans with disability act says you can't be discriminated against because you have a disability. there needs to be some reasonable accommodation made so people with disabilities can access the same public accommodations that we all can. he signed that law in 1990 . a quarter century ago. this week senator john mccain said america is a more loving and caring nation because we e passed the americans with disabilities act . the reason john mccain was saying that publicly this week is because this week the united states senate had been considering a treaty modelled on the act to persuade other countries to do what we have done. to treat our law like the gold standard for all countries, to which all countries should aspire. it's kind of flattering. our civil rights advance, one that was hard fought, but one. so far this treaty has been signed by 154 countries including the u.s. it's been ratified by 126 nations, not including the u.s. president obama, in other words, signed it a couple years ago, but it's not been ratified by the united states senate . to be clear, this treaty would not require anything from us at all. we already have disability rights . it just pushes other countries to do what we have done e. we would commit on an international level to what we already believe in here. ratifying that treaty would help us lead the rest of the world to catch up to that historic leap that we took as a country when president bush signed that legislation. with the exception of a black helicopter conspiracy theory on the right championed by failed senator rick santorum , he, who i should mention is a columnist at a birther website, that's his job now, except for his nutso theories ratifying this treaty was a political no brainer. it has bipartisan support. this has the real thing. real bipartisan support from leading democrats and leading republicans . this treaty has vocal support from veterans. so many of of them return from war with disabilities. veterans are as potent a constituency on both sides of the aisle. decorated veterans john mccain and john kerry , who have been rooils in the senate on everything short of which way is up and which way is down, these men have been bipartisan leaders together on this treaty . the u.n. convention on the rights of persons with disabilities has united the seemingly ununitable. the vote was scheduled today. ratifying a treaty requires 66 vot votes. former senator bob dole was there at the senate for the occasion. in his wheelchair. the decorated wounded combat veteran, the former republican presidential nominee on the floor of the senate . he was there with his wife. so senators had to walk past him in his wheelchair on the way in to vote. and the republicans in the senate voted no. the treaty got 61 votes, but you need a super majority to ratify a treaty and only eight republicans voted for the treaty . it requires nothing of us. 38 republicans voted no. so it failed. forget republican president, john mccain , war hero , bob dole in his wheelchair in the senate , forget our wounded veterans in their wheelchairs, forget them all. republicans are going with rick santorum and the black helicopter theory instead. now this year in 2012 . they did that today. amazing. joining us is steve clemmons. he writes at the washington note and atlantic magazine. steve is also a former policy adviser for new mexico senator jeff bingaman . thank you for being here.
>> great to be with you rachel.
>> am i being naive to think this was going to pass?
>> a lot of people thought it was going to pass. of all the treaties, this would be the easiest to pass. there were other treaties pending. this is about people in need and it didn't. this is a branch of the gop that did you want represent all republicans , but it's the obnoxious nationalist wing that really resents any international deal making. there's a lot of worry not just about people with with disabilities, but all the other trea treaties that position the united states and show that it can be the primary sculptor of global affairs , and we're defecting from that as of today's vote.
>> so 126 countries ratifying this, but us, not ratifying it. particularly when it's modelled on our law. that takes us out of a global leadership role?
>> it leaves a void that the united states is walking away from the responsibility of primary leadership in the world of sculpting global affairs in the world that are good for others in the world. what was tragic about today this lifted up standards in the rest of the world . john kerry made a mistake on the floor. he was saying support the u.n. on this. it's not supporting the u.n. it's supporting americans with with disabilities. when they go to saudi arabia , when they go to china, india, when they go around the world, this is saying the other places dig dignity and respect and access matter for people. and the terms of equality that exist in law, should apply to those with disabilities. i can't believe that would be controversial and you would have essentially only 61 senators in the united states senate vote yes on this.
>> the republicans , i'm not going to go into rick santorum 's black helicopter conspiracy theory on this because i don't want to dignify it with verbiage, but i recognize the republicans have crazy conspiracy theories about the u.n. the thing that strikes me about this one in particular is that you had bob dole and john mccain and all these republicans .
>> none of them can be republicans today. they are talking about chuck hagel . possibly getting a position in the republican administration. what is bob dole ? what is john mccain ? are they rhinos? that's what it means is that the republican party has moved so far away from their standard barers. i think it was one of the saddest thing i have seen to see these senators walk by bob dole , salute him and vote against him.
>> saying if you want to travel abroad, we're going to take no responsibility for ensuring your dignity and respect abroad. i know that you have been in touch with senator lugar and with senator hagel recently. senator lugar is in a poignant spot in his career leaving the senate after being primaried by somebody who lost in the general election . president obama paying elaborate tribute to dick lugar talking on issues of nuclear security. when you talked with them, what are they expressing about the views about what's happening?
>> i think they are concerned. they are concerned in a constructive way. just as i have heard to be honest democrats express concern about movements. when i listen to richard lugar talk about the face of american internationalism and this used to be an easy place for democrats and republicans to stand together and to support a prin principled engagement in the world, lugar and others that are no longer in the senate like hagel and others that left the party and became independents, there's a group of republicans that said this isn't working for us. what you have seen is a senator not that many. talk about anymore but you see the ghost o of jesse hems in all of this. he was the senator in the 1990s . suspended our payments to the united nations . it was during his tenure in foreign relations that many of the so-called conspiracies, the signs with the united nations were everywhere. ban the u.n. and it was the year of the child. it was like this. people believed that they were going to be told how to raise their children. and that's what essentially came. the home schooling league began to animate voters because they believe this treaty would somehow circumvent sovereignty and people losing control of their children. it's a van it's a call, horrible interpretation of a treaty that would have been good for us. you don't want to talk about santorum, but he's a lawyer. he was a lawyer before he ran. he knows better than what he did. lugar is the best in the republican party . a great leader, a great principled person who made the entire world safe. but i tell you, the united states is in a fragile place in the rest of the world . a lot of our allies doubt our ability to stand with them when they are in trouble when we have these things. we need to communicate to them we are going to be there. when you look at the cast of cards and the cast of characters, it it looks doubtful.
>> the fact they are not new tells you something. they are ready to be taft by politicians who don't have the better angels in mind. the fact that that's where they are going after this election is stunning. steve clemmons, thank you for being here.
>> thank you.
>> we'll be right back.