About a “Capital That Doesn’t Work”: Journalism That Doesn’t Work

In last Sunday’s Boston Globe, Michael Kranish contributed a long entry to the paper’s ongoing series on the always-promising theme of How Washington Is Broken And Doesn’t Work Anymore. Its subject? How those dreadful Republicans blocked the ratification of the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—even though Bob Dole and John McCain supported it! How could they say no to something that a former GOP Senate leader and presidential candidate so ardently and sincerely wanted? Did they somehow not realize that Dole, as an 89-year-old disabled war vet, is a really sympathetic guy on this issue? Didn’t they realize how the Democrats (and reporters at places like the Globe) would make them look over this?

Kranish completely—and I mean completely—ignores the substantive case against the disabled-rights treaty aside from those portions of it that emanated from groups like Christian homeschooler advocates that start out marginalized by many Globe readers. He calls the convention, in a fair sample of his general tone, “a seemingly uncontroversial measure aimed at helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people.” In reality, as readers of this site and others know, there were plenty of reasons for the convention to arouse strong opposition quite aside from the issue of whether one shared the widely reported fears of the homeschooler advocates. If you’d rather not rely on the Cato sources in the above links, you could turn to others like Chicago law professor Eric Posner (“These treaties are little more than a collective back-scratching exercise involving many of the world’s most unsavory nations”) or even Sen. Mike Lee (proponents’ assurances that the treaty could never be enforced against the United States should raise more questions than they answer).

But readers of Sunday’s Globe were not asked to confront any unsettling contrary views of that sort. They were merely invited to join in jeering at the uncouth senators from western and southern states who would vote against the world’s disabled people in order to please their party’s base. It’s an easy, glib narrative. But it’s badly wrong.