The last word on Ginsburg’s last words

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“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–2020)

In yet another assault on truth and logic, President Trump has insinuated that the reported “dying wish” of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — that her replacement on the court should be nominated by the Presidential candidate elected November 3 — is just one more hoax cooked up by Democrats to harass him.

“Sounds like a (Chuck) Schumer deal or maybe a (Nancy) Pelosi or Shifty (Adam) Schiff,” Trump harrumphed.

His “suspicion” was echoed and magnified by his personal cheerleader on Fox News, Tucker Carlson, who impugned Ginsburg’s integrity while pretending to extol it.

“Did she really leave this world fretting about a presidential election?” Carlson asked rhetorically. “We don’t believe that for a second.

“If it were true, it would be pathetic, because life is bigger than politics even this year. We wouldn’t wish final words that small on anyone. So we’re going to again choose to believe that Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t really say that, that in real life, she was thinking at the end about her family and where she might be going next. Human concerns, not partisan ones.”

In other words, Ginsburg couldn’t have said what she reportedly said, but, if she did, it revealed how pathetic her priorities were. How noble of Carlson.

The assertion is as bogus and underhanded as a meme that was going around to the effect that the source of Ginsburg’s quote was an eight-year-old kid.

In fact, the grandchild in question, Clara Spera, is a Harvard Law School-educated attorney, who said Ginsburg dictated the statement days before her death and in the presence of other witnesses.

“In the final days of her life, my grandmother and I spoke a lot about a lot of things and I asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to the public,” Spera told the BBC.

But never mind that. The most compelling reason to believe what Spera reported is that, contrary to what Trump or Carlson or any other Republican enabler says, the words and the sentiment sound exactly like Ginsburg.

They sound like the Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously quoted saying, “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

They sound like the “Notorious” RBG who quipped, “People ask me sometimes, ‘When will there be enough women on the court?’ And my answer is: ‘When there are nine.’”

Even more, they sound like the tenacious, courageous advocate of women’s rights and democratic values who declined to resign her lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court even as she suffered the ravages of age and cancer.

Ginsburg had only been on the court six years when, in 1999, she had to be treated for colon cancer. Ten years later, her doctors discovered pancreatic cancer and removed pieces of her pancreas, along with her spleen. In 2018, she had cancerous growths removed from her lungs. Just last year, she was treated for a new tumor on her pancreas. All this plus various other ailments and mishaps, including a rib-breaking fall and gall bladder problems. She was a wisp of herself physically in her last few years, bright-eyed but fragile.

At the risk of sounding as presumptuous as Tucker Carlson, I believe she delayed her death by months, maybe years, by way of sheer will.

And why? For one thing, because her ideas about what sort of nation we should be were more powerful than any personal consideration. She was like a soldier, and she did not ask “What’s in it for me?”

For another, she surely must have found Donald Trump the antithesis of what she thought a good man or a good President should be. She tried mightily to outlast him.

I never expected Trump and his Senate handmaiden, Mitch McConnell, to honor Ginsburg’s dying wishes, but they sure as hell ought to believe them.

Written by

Mississippi native, award-winning veteran of The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, stand-up storyteller, lives in Athens, Ga.

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