One detail of Al Franken’s mistaken assertion that Ruth Bader Ginsburg never proposed the abolition of Mother’s Day merits further attention. After listening to an audiotape of Franken’s remarks on his Air America show, I am revising the unofficial transcript to make clear that Franken was quoting Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann in his grand conclusion:
I think it’s an urban myth from conservatives. We got this from Thomas E. Mann, a Brookings Institute Senior Fellow on Government Studies. . . . He told us, “I now have it on the highest and closest authority that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has never, in any setting, proposed doing anything with Mother’s Day.”
So who is this “highest and closest authority” that Franken and Mann rely on? The only plausible alternatives are Ginsburg herself or her husband (after consulting with Ginsburg). Either way, it seems clear that Franken was signaling to his Air America listeners (both of them) that Ginsburg herself was the ultimate source of his (mis)information.
Let’s assume that Franken was not deceiving his audience on this point. Let’s assume, in other words, that Ginsburg was his ultimate source. So what?
I don’t doubt that Ginsburg could honestly have believed that she never proposed to abolish Mother’s Day. Indeed, it is just this possibility that I find so disturbingly revealing.
If, after all, you have dedicated your career to the ideological fiction that men and women are, except for trivial differences in plumbing, absolutely identical (rather than, say, of equal dignity and wonderfully complementary in nature). . .
If you have such disdain for the Founders that you purge their words of imagined gender bias and entrench your own policy preferences into constitutional law in place of the real Constitution. . .
If you regard the traditions of the American people as benighted. . .
If you pretend that abortion and even the utter barbarity of partial-birth abortion are constitutional rights (see Stenberg v. Carhart) and that the Constitution requires that taxpayers fund them (see Ginsburg’s chapter on the 1976 Term of the Supreme Court in a book titled Constitutional Government in America). . .
If you believe that it is bigotry not to elevate homosexual relations to the status of traditional marriage (see Lawrence v. Texas). . .
If you think that the Constitution can plausibly be read to prohibit laws against polygamy and prostitution. . .
If you oppose the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for perpetuating stereotyped sex roles. . .
If you are so removed from reality that you see co-ed prisons as necessary “to prepare inmates for return to the community as persons equipped to benefit from and contribute to civil society”. . .
If you recommend that the age of consent for purposes of statutory rape should be reduced to twelve. . .
If you believe that it is your job as a justice to supplant the political process and dictate for all Americans which interests are part of some New Age “right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” (see Lawrence v. Texas). . .
And if you won’t abide by the same rules (see 5th paragraph here) that you so eagerly impose on everyday Americans. . .
Then it’s hardly surprising that your comparatively modest proposal of abolishing Mother’s Day wouldn’t be memorable to you.
But it is shameful that Democratic senators and the liberal media have the gall to portray Ginsburg as a “moderate” and as in the “mainstream” while they attack President Bush’s outstanding nominees whose records and values are, by any measure, far more in line with those of the American people.