Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 3:15 am | Fair 40º

Mark Shields: Signs of the Republican Party in Panic

By Mark Shields |

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the uncompromising conservative whose average personal net worth of $40,501 made him, according to the respected Center for Public Integrity, the fourth-poorest member of the Senate, will resign his seat at the end of the year to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Although no salary terms have been announced, the man whom DeMint will succeed has been paid more than $1 million a year, and it’s a good bet that DeMint, who is earning $174,000 a year as a senator, will get a raise to somewhere in seven figures.

The DeMint news came right on the heels of an exclusive report in Mother Jones magazine that former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, had resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the prominent political operations in the conservative movement with strong Tea Party ties. Reportedly, Armey’s severance package will leave him richer by $8 million.

Talk about striking gold. The financial windfalls visited upon these two conservative true-believers recalls the line about the congregationalist missionaries in Hawaii who seemed to find more personal prosperity than converts: “They came to do good and did very, very well!”

But if you want to know the terribly sad state of today’s Republican Party, you just have to look at the treatment of Bob Dole, who was both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee of the GOP, in addition to being his party’s Senate leader as well as its national chairman.

But long before he was a national leader, he was 2nd Lt. Bob Dole on April 14, 1945, in the hills of Italy, when a German shell tore through his right shoulder and broke his neck and spine. He had been a 6-foot-2-inch, 194-pound athlete, and after losing 70 pounds and having his body temperature rise to 108.7 degrees, he forced himself through 39 months of painful rehabilitation to learn all over again how to use the toilet, how to eat, how to wash and dress himself, and how to walk. His painfully thin right arm, some 2.5 inches shorter than his left, has been limp for 67 years.

In 1990, Dole pushed the Americans with Disabilities Act to Senate passage. President George H.W. Bush supported and signed into law the historic legislation, which has changed the face of America and the fate of millions of Americans.

Twenty-two years later, we now take for granted the wheelchair ramps in and out of our buildings, the wider doorways for greater access, the curb-cuts that remove obstacles. The ADA welcomes citizens with disabilities fully into the nation’s academic, civic, social and economic life.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, inspired by and modeled after the ADA, was negotiated and signed by the administration of President George W. Bush in 2006. One hundred fifty-four countries have signed this treaty, and 126 countries have already ratified it. The treaty would require no change in U.S. law, but would provide the framework and incentive for other countries to recognize and guarantee, as the United States already does, the rights of all people with disabilities.

Twenty-one veterans organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Wounded Warrior Project — along with 30 religious and interfaith groups — endorse ratification by the Senate.

But on Tuesday, Senate Republicans caved to baseless, irrational fears about black helicopters parachuting blue-helmeted U.N. troops into American neighborhoods to punish homeschooling parents or shutter religious schools. With a wheelchair-bound Dole on the Senate floor urging just 13 Republicans to join all the Democrats and provide the two-thirds Senate vote needed to ratify, all but eight of the Republican senators rejected the plea of their former leader and American hero.

Why? Because they’re scared of a primary challenge from the right. That’s why. America, Bob Dole, Abraham Lincoln’s party and 700 million of our fellow human beings with disabilities all deserve better.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 12.09.12 @ 04:28 AM

Although the ADA has done some good things, it has also overreached and has encouraged our legal profession to clutter our courts with incessant and frivolous litigation. Many lawyers have thanked their lucky stars for this legislation, as it has been their meal ticket for decades now.

Also, the legislation has been extremely costly to taxpayers and private industry. The cost of complying with the ADA has sky rocketed because of unnecessary and elaborate handicap infrastructure in all our buildings, particularly in our schools. The law has defied common sense at times, which most reasonable people would acknowledge. So for Shields to characterize opposition to this treaty as some harebrained scheme is another example of shoddy reporting.

» on 12.09.12 @ 08:00 AM

Thank you Last Place Lou for further confirmation of what most voters knew about you in November.
Bob Dole. I voted for Bob Dole in 1976. I would listen to what he says. 
  Wounded Warror . I send Wounded Warrior Foundation a donation every year. They are a rock solid charity. Their incredible work helping veterans and veterans famiies is unmatched.I would listen to what they say.
Congressional Republicans. One reason they cite, for voting down this act, is they dont believe that big decisions should be made by a lame duck Congress. Really ?!?  These are the same people who are supposed to be working to avoid the “fiscal cliff” , and they dont think big decisions should be made ?1?
  What a disgraceful group .

» on 12.09.12 @ 05:55 PM

Sad, but true.

Party of NO! reform idealists bailing ship for 7-figure think tank jobs, funded by
the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Harold Simmons, et al.

Bob Dole, who (unlike GW, Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Romney) actually went, fought, sacrificed his body for America, dissed on the Senate floor by “patriots” of his own Party of NO!, who are also up in arms about four casualties in Benghazi?

Makes you want to hurl.

» on 12.10.12 @ 12:04 AM

Senate Republicans: A profile in cowardice.

» on 12.10.12 @ 02:28 AM

Lou the ADA has improved the lives of countless Americans. Yes it has cost us money, and it’s money very well spent. Yes it has increased the number of regulations on our collective books, and it has increased our awareness of what many of our fellow Americans had to suffer through on a daily basis. We’re a better country because of it, plain and simple.
The objections raised in the House of Representatives to this treaty were out-and-out ridiculous. Go and listen to what they said! Unfortunately, Shields nailed it.

» on 12.10.12 @ 08:17 AM

As I have said, the ADA has done some good things, but the law has led to some absurd results. For example:

“A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that requires the Washington Redskins to make game content broadcast over the FedEx Field public address system accessible to deaf fans through captioning – including song lyrics. . . . The National Association of the Deaf and the Baltimore law firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy filed the suit in 2006 on behalf of three deaf or hard-of-hearing Redskins fans who regularly attend home games.”

“Public pools and hot tubs are now REQUIRED to have permanent/ fixed cranes installed just in case a disabled person may want to use the facilities. Depending on the size of the pool multiple lifts may be required. Many hotels are instead just closing their pools and hot tubs instead of installing the lifts at a cost of $4000-$10000+ each that may never be used. There aren’t even enough lifts in production to meet this mandate. More government insanity hurting private businesses.”

A MIT study found that employment of disabled men ages 21 to 58 declined after the ADA went into effect. Same for women ages 21 to 39.

The law has become problematic for our schools in a number of ways. It is well-known among architects and people in the construction industry that school construction projects are prohibitively expensive because of the ADA. In many cases the costs are at least double what they should be. There are real consequences to public education, like less schools being renovated or built because of shrinking budgets.

Also, the ADA has mandated that our public schools provide comprehensive special educational services (even if it means paying for expensive private schools and services for these children) without providing any funding to help defray the cost of these services. So this part of the budget is growing uncontrollably and is forcing many school districts to siphon money from the general education budget to pay for these services. In Santa Barbara, around 25% of the budget is directed to 10% of the students. The other 90% of the students are definitely disadvantaged by the law.

As I said in my previous post, the law has been a bonanza for the legal profession. There are law firms who specialize in filing these law suits and extort huge settlements from our financially stressed schools and businesses who rather settle than waste their resources fighting these frivolous lawsuits.

I know on the surface it may seem like this law is equivalent to motherhood and apple pie, but upon closer examination, it is not what it appears to be.

» on 12.10.12 @ 12:53 PM

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Trying to explain that to a liberal is hell itself, but nice try Lou.

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