This is appalling.
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s shocking appearance at a George Washington University Law School forum on September 12 was a sad and infuriating display of just what little regard our public officials have for the American people today.
Frail, withered, and barely sensate at times, Ginsburg serves as a tottering, doddering monument to the need for term limits to remove power-addicted occupants of the D.C. Swamp from their cobwebbed gilded seats of – ha! – “public service.”
Serving the People?
There is a desire to be polite about all of this, to not come across as mean-spirited or callous. But this affects all of our lives. These are the people who are captaining the Ship of State, and as most Americans realize by now, that ship has been steering a disastrous course for far too long.
Beyond the contempt officials like Ginsburg display for the American people when they cling to position with no regard for their ability to perform their duties, there are very real national security concerns with having members of Congress – most especially senators, the traditional grey-haired denizens of Capitol Hill – who are very likely suffering from dementia gaining access to classified material.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) was clearly displaying signs of serious cognitive impairment during his re-election campaign in 2014. Having already served a staggering six six-year terms in the Senate, Cochran was dragged out again by the Republican establishment to protect a GOP seat from populist conservative challenger Chris McDaniel.
He manifestly proved throughout the campaign that he was mentally unfit to remain in office.
Cochran made a bizarre comment about doing “all kind of indecent things with animals” as a child in one campaign appearance. He told a reporter he hadn’t heard about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat, and also said the Tea Party “is something I don’t really know a lot about.”
Despite all this, the Haley Barbour political machine in Mississippi dragged Cochran to the finish line, with the help of Democrat voters in a Republican primary runoff, and Cochran was re-elected for a seventh term.
Back in Washington for a fifth decade, Cochran at one point forgot where the Senate chamber was located and cast the wrong vote on a bill. Unable to perform his duties, he eventually resigned on April 1 of this year. You will be hard-pressed to find a more grotesque display of the power of incumbency.
What national security documents was Cochran granted access to in his last failing years in office? What if foreign spies had been able to get a hold of him under some pretense – a public appearance or interview perhaps? Would he even know what he was doing if he started blurting out classified information to them?
Nick Tomboulides at termlimits.com pointedly asks, “Don’t Americans deserve to know any fact about our politicians that would keep them from doing the job they were elected to do?”
“They could be compromised by corruption, sure. But it could also be something outside of their control, like aging and the onset of mental incapacity. While these are sensitive topics, we’d be doing a disservice to democracy by not discussing them. People have got to know if their politicians are well.”
Tomboulides references the news that “many members of Congress get prescriptions hand-delivered by Grubb’s Pharmacy, the oldest dispensary in town.” And a number of the prescriptions members of Congress are having filled are for drugs that treat Alzheimer’s disease.
“At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Mike Kim, owner of the pharmacy, told STAT News of filling congressional prescriptions.
“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.’”
Our Seats, Not Theirs
Ted Kennedy died in office. John McCain died in office. Orrin Hatch at the age of 84 had to be carried away kicking and screaming by Utah GOP officials to prevent him from running for yet another term. Dianne Feinstein is favored to win re-election at the age of 85, which would make her 91 years old at the end of her next term.
This clinging to power by Swamp denizens is yet another sign that their time in office is all about them. How can anyone look at that video of Ginsburg at the GWU Law School and think she has genuine public service on her mind?
Surely our Founding Fathers never imagined we’d have politicians and powerful judicial figures dying in office like popes when they designed our system of government, a system dedicated to promote the citizen-servant, who serves his country well.
And then leaves.