Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2009

REMOVING ALL DOUBT.... Five years ago, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ken.) won re-election despite odd and erratic personal behavior. Now, in advance of another re-election fight, Bunning is acting strangely again.

Last month, Bunning decided not to show up for work for a while, and refused to say publicly where he was. More recently, the Kentucky Republican has been more tight-lipped, at least until this weekend.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges "and that's going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg ... has cancer."

"Bad cancer. The kind that you don't get better from," he told a crowd of about 100 at the old State Theater.

"Even though she was operated on, usually, nine months is the longest that anybody would live after (being diagnosed) with pancreatic cancer," he said.

And here I thought Bill Frist was the only Republican comfortable making medical diagnoses from afar.

There are a few angles to this. First, Bunning -- whose background is in professional baseball, not medicine -- doesn't really know what he's talking about. Ginsburg's cancer was caught early and she had surgery to remove a small tumor that had not spread. It's obviously a serious, life-threatening matter, but the American Cancer Society notes that "people diagnosed with Stage 1 pancreatic cancer have between a 21 and 37 percent chance of living for more than five years with the disease."

Second, shouldn't Bunning, when speaking publicly, show a little more respect? Predicting the death of a Supreme Court justice, in the context of judicial politics, doesn't exactly scream "class."

It's a reminder of why Republican leaders on the Hill, while generally discouraging retirements, would love to see Bunning go away.

Note to Bunning: better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

I think that brain tumor Bunning is suffering from is going to kill him in 6 weeks. I'm not a doctor but I play one on blog comment threads.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 23, 2009 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

even if the predictions of Nostradumbass were to come true, what makes him think Obama would seek a conservative to replace Ginsburg?


Ohhhhh, right. Bunning. Crazy. Natch.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 23, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Send ol'Jimbo back to the bull pen where he ended his inglorious baseball career! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 23, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK
It's a reminder of why Republican leaders on the Hill, while generally discouraging retirements, would love to see Bunning go away.

Bunning is really no crazier than the rest of that lot, so I don't see what their problem is.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 23, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

For localized pancreatic cancer the 5 year survival rate is 16.4 percent. The problem here isn't Bunning putting out medical claims -- if this were a later stage pancreatic cancer he'd be pretty on spot, but that he's just off given the public information on Ginsburg.

Posted by: stefan on February 23, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK


How does he know?

Is this a terroristic threat?

How do WE know it isn't?

h

Posted by: h on February 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Bunning has plenty to answer for - not only his absences (the first week of new Senate for a "family commitment" he'd made six months before? Sounds like a rehab clinic to me). His bizarre behavior could either be drug/alcohol related, or he's in early stages of dementia. Or, I suppose, he could just be a jerk. But this is the kind of thing that the Dems could go after him for:

Jim Bunning Foundation

On December 18, 2008, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Sen. Bunning's non-profit foundation, the Jim Bunning Foundation, has given less than 25 percent of its proceeds to charity. The charity has taken in $504,000 since 1996, according to Senate and tax records; during that period, Senator Bunning was paid $180,000 in salary by the foundation while working a reported one hour per week. Bunning Foundation board members include his wife Mary, and Cincinnati tire dealer Bob Sumerel. In 2008, records indicate that Bunning attended 10 baseball shows around the country and signed autographs, generating $61,631 in income for the charity.[16] "The whole thing is very troubling," said Melanie Slone, Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

NOTE: 25% of those proceeds is only $126,000. He paid himself MORE for an hour per week over that time-frame. Wanna bet that he didn't pay taxes on any of it either?

Posted by: winddancer on February 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

I can make unfounded medical diagnoses from afar too! I sat that Jim Bunning is mentally insane.

Posted by: rob! on February 23, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

I always find it sad that ass holes like Bunning always seem to be the ones that live so long. Also, too bad ignorance isn't physically painful to the ignorant...


Posted by: Stevio on February 23, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I developed a nickname for Bunning years ago: The Right Honorable Senator Jim "Who Took Off My Pants, Shit in Them, and Then Put Them Back On Me?" Bunning (R-KY).

Posted by: norbizness on February 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

My medical diagnosis of Bunning is that he is f#cking crazy! He doesn't have a chance of ever having a good idea again.

Posted by: gttim on February 23, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

You don't think him and Will from your previous post are plunging deep into dementia together, do you.

Posted by: Rook on February 23, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Pat Robertson actually praying for a vacancy back when Ginsberg had cancer the first time?
The thing that's stupid about Bunning's statement is that Ginsberg, if she does retire in the next four years, will almost certainly be replaced by another progressive/liberal, not a conservative.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 23, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Stefan, "he is just off" works well. Perhaps he received his info from Dr Frist. However, Bill is far better at financial triage than reading medical records.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Bunning most likely has a booze/drug problem.

It's one thing to be callous and cruel about Ginsburg's prognosis.

But to predict that her replacement will be someone conservative is plain nuts. Like he'd had 6 before-dinner drinks.

Posted by: Cash on February 23, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is totally out of line for him to make such a comment even if she does have a serious illness which is life threatening and could force her to step down and create a vacancy on the court. I also have a problem with this blog. Where was the same outrage when commercials were being run repeatedly on MSNBC talking about John McCain and showing his face before and after his cancer surgery and having doctors say IF he would get it again he would most likely die? If you are going to stand on principal it should cross party lines.

Posted by: johnnj on February 23, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously this is an expression of his wishes rather than a statement of fact. Sort of like how Republicans keep predicting that they will get the majority back in 2010, when in reality the events they cite as evidence for this, such as their unanimous opposition to a popular stimulus package, are actually, if you look at objective measures like polling, marginalizing them even further. Of course, Bunning is so out of it that he doesn't seem to realize that if he gets his wish, another liberal (by his standards at least) will be appointed and would probably be around a lot longer than Ginsberg even if she dies naturally. He should be hoping she survives until there is a Republican president, although the way things are going, she may have to live to 100 for that to happen.

Posted by: ibid on February 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

But when Joe Biden misspeaks, not a word from you hypocrits.

Posted by: dead freight mike on February 23, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

As I've said elsewhere, Jim Bunning had far more distinguished career as a MLB pitcher (for the Tigers + Phils; he is the only pitcher to win 150+ games in the AL + NL) than as a Senator. As a pitcher, Bunning was terrific; as a Senator, he's an embarrassment.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on February 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

@ johnnj:

McCain was running to be the oldest President ever, and asking the country to put a hopelessly underqualified hack next in line for that office. The public does not have a decision to make about Ginsburg right now, and neither does Bunning. The applicable principle isn't, "People shouldn't talk about the risk that a cancer patient might die." It is, "People shouldn't gratuitously and falsely exaggerate the risk that a cancer patient might die."

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Misspeaks? Misfuckingspeaks? You're as demented as he is, Mike.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

SqueakyRat, I think Dead Freight Mike's a parody handle. As in, somebody's writing those comments as a parody of Red State Mike. Just a hunch.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK
Predicting the death of a Supreme Court justice, in the context of judicial politics, doesn't exactly scream "class."
Predicting the death of a Supreme Court justice is only slightly less objectionable than advocating for it (see Pat Robertson). Posted by: navamske on February 23, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Predicting the death of a Supreme Court justice is only slightly less objectionable than advocating for it (see Pat Robertson). Posted by: navamske on February 23, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK
______________________

or Ann-drew "Dice" Coulter

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 23, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

The applicable principle isn't, "People shouldn't talk about the risk that a cancer patient might die." It is, "People shouldn't gratuitously and falsely exaggerate the risk that a cancer patient might die."

Beyond that, it's "People shouldn't blithely estimate the odds of a cancer patient's death in the context of that death allowing them to pursue their own political agendas."

Posted by: shortstop on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, too, this is the same Jim Bunning who in 2004 compared his opponent to one of the sons of Saddam Hussein.

Still in all, we should tone down the criticism. I'd just as soon see this clown renominated by the GOP next year.

Posted by: Django48 on February 23, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty weak tea.

He didn't say he was HAPPY about it. He was just stating the facts as he saw them. (inaccurately)

What his support of conservative justices has to do with it, I'm not sure.

Is the GOP ready to stonewall all liberal or moderate justices and let the SCOTUS position remain vacant conspicuously for months on end?


Tune in to Limbaugh. Let's see if his hoping Obama fails include Ginsberg dying. Rush is the guy to look to for proper inspiration for conservatives.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 23, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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