White Coat Underground

If you read the news, you know that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer. I am not privy to the details of her illness, but it was apparently amenable to surgery, which gives her a fighting chance, and today, she returned to the Bench. I was going to use her illness to explore the specifics of pancreatic cancer and of cancer screening in general as part of my series on cancer, but some idiot is already using her story for political gain, so my hands are tied.

Senator Jim Bunning (R, KY) issued a god-like pronouncement over the weekend, declaring that:

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.

Thanks for playing, asshole. First of all, with Stage I pancreatic cancer, the average 5-year relative survival rate is about 20% (assuming she has an adenocarcinoma rather than a rarer tumor type). Let’s remember that these statistics tell us about aggregate data, not about individuals. A particular patient’s chances are also influenced by many factors, including their overall level of health.

Bunning has the facts wrong (although he’s correct in noting that pancreatic cancer is usually a devastating disease, especially when diagnoses in later stages as is the norm). But then there’s the “asshole factor”. First, a public official making a general pronouncement on the horrific nature of “cancer” is a bad idea—it takes away hope from cancer patients caught in his crossfire.

Second, the tone is one of gleeful stupidity. He’s clearly overjoyed at the prospect of Ginsburg’s mortal coil gettin’ in the ground, but fast.

Of course, he has now issued his obligatory “nopology”:

“I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsburg,” Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement released by his office. “That certainly was not my intent. It is great to see her back at the Supreme Court today and I hope she recovers quickly. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.”

Let’s all remember what apology really means. The purpose of an apology is to tell someone that you regret causing them harm. When you say that you are sorry that your comments “offended someone”, you are blaming them for being overly sensitive rather than expressing actual regret (or perhaps, more properly, you regret getting caught). This is one of the most insulting statements one person can make to another. It’s the equivalent of spitting in someone’s face and then wondering aloud why anyone would take offense.

I don’t expect Bunning to issue a real apology, especially after reading the comments from his constituents. It does give me the idea that I probably wouldn’t want to live in Kentucky.

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    February 23, 2009

    The site Fark mentioned his comment – gave his affiliation as (R-eally big dumbass) about it. Sounds about right.

  2. #2 Matthew Platte
    February 23, 2009

    or Nebraska.

  3. #3 The Ridger
    February 23, 2009

    On top of everything else, what? Obama’s going to appoint a conservative?

    Bunning is an asshole AND stupid.

  4. #4 Jon H
    February 23, 2009

    The first draft of his talk probably had him wondering why she couldn’t have gotten sick a year ago.

  5. #5 Comrade PhysioProf
    February 23, 2009

    It’s actually good that these motherfucking Republican scumbags show their true colors like this, as the American people are starting to figure out that what these shitheels are really made of.

  6. #6 Moopheus
    February 23, 2009

    Are we going to get a repeat of Pat Robertson’s performance, calling for god to “make a vacancy” on the court, as he did when Rehnquist was sick? Or does Pat only do that when he’s pretty sure it’s “in the bag,” so to speak?

  7. #7 Donna B.
    February 23, 2009

    I didn’t find any comments from his constituents to read? Are they in another link I missed — all I see are the two newspaper articles.

    Just don’t, please, be so smugly assured that all Kentuckians agree with Bunning (or Pat Robertson) or that most conservatives would give either the time of day.

    CPP, you might find that many Americans are waking up to the fact that 98% of Congress’ members are scumbags. The other 2% just haven’t been there long enough yet.

  8. #8 Strider
    February 23, 2009

    Donna B.
    Correct me if I’m wrong but 98% of Congress members didn’t obstruct President Obama’s stimulus package only the percentage with an R before their state or district. Scumbags.

  9. #9 Donna B.
    February 23, 2009

    Strider — Do you think the stimulus package is an overall good idea? It certainly contains good things, but there’s a lot of bad in there too.

    And I guarantee you that no one who voted for it had read it or had any greater understanding than you or I except for their pet projects.

    Nothing that big with that many words compiled and voted on so quickly can automatically be assumed to be a good thing.

    Besides, that particular bill does not alone define scumbag. There are many others.

  10. #10 LanceR, JSG
    February 23, 2009

    I’ve heard this meme before, that nobody could actually understand such a large bill. Usually in conjunction with “I don’t think that’s a good idea, George!”

    It’s not like Congress critters have HUGE staffs of interns and paid clerks who get paid to read these things, and policy advisers who get paid to, you know, advise.

    How long did this stimulus bill take to pass? A month? Better than the bankruptcy bill. Or the Medicare bill. Or just about every piece of nastiness for the last four years.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but let’s try to keep facts straight.

  11. #11 Donna B.
    February 24, 2009

    Lance R. — Did you not read the last line of my comment? The one where I said this bill was not alone in defining scumbag? It goes back many, many years.

    Yes, let’s do keep the facts straight. How about we start with what I wrote. Feel free to disagree, but please do not imply that I didn’t cover the last four years (and many more) in my statement.

  12. #12 El Picador Mono
    February 24, 2009

    Besides, that particular bill does not alone define scumbag. There are many others.

    Oh, agreed, totally. The Republicans have had many, many opportunities to define themselves as rancid scumbags with legislation. and they have taken full advantage of just about every one.

  13. #13 Marilyn Mann
    February 24, 2009

    Hi, the correct spelling of her name is “Ginsburg.”

  14. #14 PalMD
    February 24, 2009

    I’m of the general belief that the thread belongs to the commenters, so hijack away…but this was a post about an outrageously heinous asshole, not the stimulus.

    Oh, thanks MM, i’ll fix it.

  15. #15 Donna B.
    February 24, 2009

    I completely agree that Bunning is ‘an outrageously heinous asshole” and I merely wanted to point out that he’s not alone. And that while he may be a Senator (for now) from Kentucky, he’s not actually representative of Kentucky.

    I wouldn’t want to live in KY because after having driven through the state twice, I found the landscape bleak. My perceptions have changed in the last 10 years, so another trip may be in order.

    One driving through Oklahoma on the Interstate or major state highways would also see mostly a bleak landscape. All the beauty of the state is off the main road.

    I live in Louisiana and registered as a Republican years ago to make sure I could vote against David Duke in the primary. I haven’t bothered to change my registration, but I also haven’t bothered BEING a Republican.

    The partisanship of the commenters here is disturbing as it seems emotional rather than evidence-based. Why would one give unquestioning approval to any political idea, bill, or official?

    No doubt, based on the evidence, that Bunning is an idiot. And a scumbag. What’s not part of the evidence is the “R” or “D” after his name.

  16. #16 The Blind Watchmaker
    March 1, 2009

    Ad hominem attacks are sometimes called for, or at least helpful in releasing frustrations.

  17. #17 eddie
    March 1, 2009

    Isn’t there some sort of law against planning the death of a member of SCOTUS? I know it’s not like an assassination.

    Bunning is a douche but what PR did was incitement to murder.