The extremism of the Republican Party is beginning to recognized by the general public -- on tax rates for the rich, on reproductive issues, on immigration, on whether people who need public assistance are worthy of simple respect as Americans and human beings. In the midst of this, yesterday Senate Republicans voted to reject a UN treaty on the rights of the disabled, effectively spitting in the face of 89-year-old Bob Dole, the wheelchair-bound former senator and Republican presidential nominee, who was on the floor of the Senate trying to urge support for the treaty.
If you're a media insider, what do you when it becomes clear that one of the nation's two major political parties has gone completely crazy? Well, if you're Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, what you do is enable the insanity by trying to normalize it -- you publish an op-ed by the best-known crackpot anti-UN conspiratorialist, Rick Santorum. You put your imprimatur on the notion that the treaty would have allowed jackbooted UN thugs to tell parents how to raise their disabled kids, thus suggesting that maybe the notion isn't so crazy after all, if Newsweek/The Daily Beast will give it a serious airing.
I won't dignify the content of the op-ed by analyzing it. I will point out that it takes Santorum all of four sentences before he's using his disabled daughter, Bella, as a political prop:
The reason I have so strongly opposed CRPD is also simple. Karen and I have experienced first-hand as we care for our little blessing, Bella, that parents and caregivers care most deeply and are best equipped to care for the disabled. Not international bureaucrats.Santorum, as you may know, incessantly uses Bella to try to score political points. It's shameless.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the mainstreaming of right-wing anti-UN paranoia -- as Kevin Drum notes, this kind of thinking goes back decades in the GOP, and as Steve Clemons noted last night on Rachel Maddow's show, this kind of thinking really began to flower a generation ago when Jesse Helms was at the height of his power. (The good old days! The days when the Gipper and Tip used to hash things out over drinks!) Oh, and that nice, mainstream Dick Morris has a big bestseller that tells us UN conspiracy theories aren't nutty after all. So I guess we're just going to decide that it's perfectly OK for the GOP to be made up of nothing but Jesse Helms-style nutjobs.