Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Candidates on Disability - Part I

I'm sitting in my car outside a closed Starbucks, finished with my pumpkin latte but still slurping down the dregs of their wi-fi. Ike's leftover fury hit St. Louis early this morning with a deluge: flooding our roads, knocking down our branches, and taking out our power. (Update. Starbucks turned off their WiFi so I've driven across the street to McDonalds, where I'm paying for access. The madness! This will necessarily be a short post as I have little laptop battery remaining and no idea when our electricity will be restored.)

If you go over to John McCain's campaign website and click on the "Issues" tab, there's no listing for "Disability." Under "Health Care" there are certainly some items of note for people concerned with disability issues, including a statement about autism.

On the "Education" page, we learn that McCain supports No Child Left Behind. (I have blogged about the effects of this program on full inclusion for children with disabilities, links under "Labels" in the sidebar.) We also learn that - surprise! - "There is no shortage of federal programs targeted at early child care and preschool." In exchange for all that money that our schools get, we need to prepare our preschoolers for their own federally-mandated standardized tests: "Every federally supported program (including Head Start) must include meaningful, measurable standards designed to determine that students are ready for school by measuring their school readiness skills."

Under Human Dignity and Life we see nothing about disbility. The platform discusses abortion, adoption, gay marriage, embyonic stem cell research, online pedophiles, and online pornography.

A search for "disability" on the website turns up just 7 results. Among those results are a couple of unrelated pages, McCain's support of "closed captioning, hearing aid compatibility, and video description," and his support of services for disabled veterans.

In closing, there's definitely information of interest on John McCain's website for people with disabilities, though you have to look around for it.

Disability concerns aren't high enough on McCain's list of priorities to deserve their own tab or page, and are often mentioned in general terms if called out at all.

According to McCain's 2007 tax return, all of his charitable donations go through the John and Cindy McCain Family Foundation, which primarily supports private schools that his children have attended. Other recipients include "Operation Smile, which repairs facial abnormalities in children and young people, and . . . the Halo Trust, which removes debris left behind after wars, especially land mines."

I am concerned about the importance John McCain places on disability issues, and what that suggests about the policies he'd support as President. My next post will focus on what Obama's campaign web site says about disability, then I'll move along to legislative records.

Assuming, of course, that we get power back at some point.


Stushie said...

Keep up the good research work,'d be a great lobbyist.

RobMonroe said...

Sorry to hear about your power, especially knowing how bad it seems to be where you live!

I have concern if his main focus money-wise on disability is repairing facial abnormalities in children and young people. Argh.

Anne said...


Operation Smile repairs deformities such as cleft palate. Which can have long term effects on feeding, speech etc. They are not doing plastic surgery. In the US most cleft palates are repair in the first weeks of life. One of my neighbors is a retired nurse who also speaks Spanish she's gone on several missions with them to Central America.

Chrystal said...

Thanks for working so diligently to get us this info. Personally, I find it very enlightening and I look forward to Part II and beyond.

I hope things get back to working order in your 'hood soon.

Sarahlynn said...

First, our power came back on at midnight! Yay! Luckily, Ada didn't wake up when her bedroom blazed to light.

Thanks, Stushie . . . I think. I don't see a career as a lobbyist in my future, but I definitely believe in my responsibility as a voter to inform myself on the issues and candidates.

Rob, One great thing about our neighborhood is the number of tall, old, beautiful trees. But one of the bad things about our neighborhood, when the storms come, are those tall, old beautiful tress . . .

Second, Anne beat me to it, but as far as McCain and repairing facial abnormalities is concerned, I think it's a good cause, actually. While abroad on a charity trip, Cindy McCain adopted a daughter with a cleft palate and brought her back to the States to have it repaired. My understanding is that Operation Smile does important work helping indigent kids with cleft palate:

See, the thing is, McCain's interest in disability seems limited to that which he's personally experienced as a military vet and as a parent. After such a long career in public life, I'd hope those experiences would have generalized out a bit more to include a larger sense of empathy and responsibility.

Chrystal, you're welcome! It's my pleasure. Hopefully tonight's research will be even more fun . . . not cramped in a car parked outside of McDonald s.

Tre said...

What I find is Republicans do not feel the need to change people's minds (individually) but Democrats seem to constantly feel the need to convince us we are wrong. I respect differing opinions and I could make make criticisms against Obama. I am sure Sarah Palin will advocate for children with disabilities but how dare she have a handicapped child because Democrats use even that against her. I am more compelled to vote MCCain/Palin after reading so many blog comments . As for abortion, our bodies are not our own, we are bought with a price.

Sarahlynn said...

I'm not sure where Tre here is from, but it's clear he's not familiar with this blog. Tre, I'm not trying to convince you of anything. With this series, I'm taking a very serious look at where the candidates stand on disability issues for this election. This is an issue of especial importance to me, as the parent of a child with Down syndrome (like Sarah Palin). I'm not sure how you stumbled across this blog, but if you choose to participate, you'll need to read a bit to familiarize yourself with some of the issues and rules.

Regarding Republicans, Democrats, and abortion, I invite you to read the posts over in the sidebar under "Passionate Posts," specifically "Choice" and "On Houdini and Abortion."