February 13, 2015

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the State of the Union: "And we sit there, stone faced, the sober judges... But we’re not, at least I was not, 100% sober."

The Justices had dinner together before the speech, and they drank wine.


I'd fall asleep too — wine or no wine. What a pain to have sit there and enact the old "sober as a judge" cliché while the rest of the audience — in Ginsburg's words "is awake because they’re bobbing up and down all the time."

She's being amusing and a bit critical of the SOTU routine. If you're reading this as a confession that she was drunk, I'm guessing you're an ideologue. There was one bottle of California wine and there were 6 Justices at this year's SOTU. That's a tiny glass apiece. Now, Justice Ginsburg is a tiny lady, and maybe a tiny glass would knock her out by 9 p.m. But, come on. It's a joke about falling asleep in a stuffy constrained setting, a joke that plays on the expression "sober as a judge."

56 comments:

AustinRoth said...

You don't have to be an ideologue, though, to know were it Scalia that first fell asleep at the SOTU, then admitted to drinking beforehand, the reaction in the press would be very, very different.

Because of ideology.

Rumpletweezer said...

Don't drink and decide.

EDH said...

Was Bill Cosby at the dinner?

Roger Sweeny said...

As someone who often disagrees with her opinions, I actually think more of her now. Partly for the honesty, and partly because I might do the same thing.

Of course, I'd really love to hear her say, "It's just so boring; he pretends to do things he can't, and tries to make political points. Next year I'm staying home and doing something useful, like cutting my toenails."

I am not Lazlo.

Nonapod said...

The fact that a senior citizen fell asleep during our Professor in Chief's long, droning lecture isn't exactly surprising or shameful... for her at least.

Big Mike said...

At her age she should know her limits. It weren't her first rodeo, as they say, so she should have skipped the wine or skipped the State of the Union. Falling asleep when the President is talking is unseemly, and I don't think it takes an ideologue to say so.

Now on the other hand, I think it does suggest that one is an ideologue to attempt to excuse the behavior.

Rob said...

In the CBS account of Ginsberg's comment, we learn the most delightful factoid: her granddaughters call her "Bubbe." She doesn't seem the type.

Big Mike said...

@Rob, "Bubbe" is Yiddish for "Gramma."

Nonapod said...

And in a weird way the fact that she may have only had 1 small glass of wine explain a lot. I find that 1 or 2 drinks tend to be soporific, but just a bit more than a couple drinks tends to have a more energizing effect.

B said...

Made me like her a whole lot more to know she's annoyed by the SOTU farce.

traditionalguy said...

In Ginsberg's present condition the SCOTUS votes need to be quoted as 5 to 3.5, or 5.5 to 3. Let's hope her remaining half hang in there until 2017.

Rob said...

@Big Mike

I'm well aware. My point was that the emaciated and unemotional Ginsberg isn't what most of us think of as a bubbe.

chickelit said...

And Rosemary on the gallows, she didn’t even blink
The hangin’ judge was sober, he hadn’t had a drink...

Saint Croix said...

I can see why Scalia is her best buddy.

You know, one thing I hate about being a pro-lifer is that I am attacking the Supreme Court. I always liked the Supreme Court. I like how they shake each other's hands. Always a big fan of Hugo Black.

"Five votes can do anything around here." And then the decapitation and dismemberment.

I'm sure I would like them as human beings. (And I wouldn't be so harsh). I try to remember that slave-owners were nice people, too. Washington, Jefferson, Madison. You can be a nice, wonderful human being--and Ginsburg clearly is one--and still do atrocities. That's the horrible thing about this fight, how painful it's going to be when the truth comes out. I don't think the Supreme Court realizes how much our media has been protecting them. And I do not think they have thought about what it will be like if the media starts to attack them.

Brian said...

Why doesn't she just not go?

campy said...

So Obama didn't have consent for the speech?

richard mcenroe said...

There aren't enough grapes stomped each year to make me sit through an Obama lecture, er, speech....

lemondog said...

Snoozing or praying for it to end?

Curious George said...

Just don't die RBG. Not yet.

The Drill SGT said...

Opus One

At the winery their stuff starts at about $10 an ounce, $240 a bottle

Rothschild/Mondavi is a good wine pedigree.

MayBee said...

I find this utterly charming.

Jon Burack said...

I was in exactly the same state as Ginsburg during the SOTU. Now I understand why. I also had had a glass of wine with dinner that night. I mean I am sure otherwise I'd have been bobbing up and down with the rest at the sheer brilliance of the man whose turned the page.

MadisonMan said...

I agree with MayBee -- this is a delightful anecdote. It makes me chuckle.

Paul said...

She had just wine?

Heck, to listen to an Obama speech I'd need a fifth of Wild Turkey.

walter said...

Well..it's better than having it chalked up to being too old.

RonF said...

I had a shot of Bushmills' 21-year-old Single Malt and I was in the comfort of my own home!

madAsHell said...

Attending the SOTU diminishes the stature of the Supremes. It makes them appear political, instead of cold and rational.

holdfast said...

I admit it makes me like her a little more.

YoungHegelian said...

Considering that poor ol' RBG is 81, has recovered from both colon & pancreatic cancer, and had a coronary stent implanted in 11/2014, I'm really inclined to cut the lady a lot of slack.

When you're that age & have been pulled through that wringer, I imagine one glass of wine can just take you right out.

Pettifogger said...

I'm a lot younger than RBG, which I cannot say about most other people, and I would fall asleep, wine or no wine. I often do in situations requiring me to sit still in the evening. I often don't make it through television shows. I say this even though I'm more a fan of the Thomas/Scalia wing of the court than RBG's.

n.n said...

It's a sobering thought to know that our black-robed priests may not be 100% sober.

walter said...

"When you're that age & have been pulled through that wringer"..you might not be so supreme...

traditionalguy said...

When she attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings will she say, " Hello, my name is Ruth and I am the 5th Philosopher King that decides life and death in America.

David said...

The State of the Union Address? By Obama? Another one?

Who can possibly blame her.

sparrow said...

Can't blame her; I'd need a drink to sit through that speech

traditionalguy said...

I advise we avoid certain adjectives when describing Ginsberg; such as, stone faced, dead drunk, lifeless, inactive or inanimate.

Alex said...

I'd need at least 5 bottles to start getting wobbly.

Piker.

veni vidi vici said...

I love the "apres moi, le deluge" attitude of our current group of elites. They delight in denuding our institutions of their mystique.

I'm not sure what purpose that serves to society but it does get the individual actors a bit of press and nods of approval from the rogues' gallery.

Bricap said...

The Drill SGT said...

Opus One

At the winery their stuff starts at about $10 an ounce, $240 a bottle

Rothschild/Mondavi is a good wine pedigree.

2/13/15, 2:02 PM


Is this wine really worth the money? I would think there are a lot of $250ish bottles I'd want to try before this one.

n.n said...

May Ginsburg remain fully or sufficiently sober and competent until after Obama leaves office.

chickelit said...

n.n said...
May Ginsburg remain fully or sufficiently sober and competent until after Obama leaves office.

Because she's holding his seat until after he leaves office.

tim in vermont said...

@Big Mike,
He's not a king. This is a democracy. That means that your sacred cow or mine can be insulted, slighted, whatever, and we have to live with it. Seriously. He is not a king.

If you want a king, go to Russia where fearless leader can put Pussy Riot in prison for criticizing him. That would be great, right?

Big Mike said...

@tim, back when I was a young draftee I was taught in BCT that one respects the rank, not (necessarily) the man.

Neither Barack Obama nor Vlad Putin is a king. But if one is attending an important address given by a head of state proper protocol demands that one pay attention or at any rate act as though one is paying attention. If you're too tired to stay awake throughout, then feign illness and beg off.

Chef Mojo said...

Delightfully witty bit of wordplay by RBG. I don't see what the big deal and pile on is about. I usually fall asleep during speeches, sober or not, and was notorious for falling asleep during sermons back in the day when I did that sort of thing.

n.n said...

chickelit:

Not without due process.

Oh, who am I kidding. Pass the opiates. Now we are covered.

The Godfather said...

The Supremes should have stopped going to the SOTU after the Pres. called them out during a SOTU for applying the First Amendment.

The Joint Chiefs should not attend because SOTUs have become political/partisan, not patriotic.

James Pawlak said...

I am willing to get the rest of her "Party" stoned---Or, is stone them?

MayBee said...

Bricap- I don't think Opus One is worth the money. It is good, it is really good, but it isn't a stand out to me.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Not that I'm any fan of RBG; I'm not.

But if a person has to attend, watch, or listen to the SOTO then drunk would be a good way to get through it.

The Constitutional requirement to deliver a SOTU report to Congress, what used to be submitted in writing, has morphed into a political grandstanding and cheering extravaganza.

This year my sock drawer was badly in need or sorting, so I was not able to watch.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I went to see Apocalypse Now slightly drunk and I fell asleep before they were halfway up the river. And I was 18 at the time.

T Rellis said...


Is this wine really worth the money? I would think there are a lot of $250ish bottles I'd want to try before this one.

2/13/15, 4:02 PM

In a previous life I was server/bartender/manager in really nice places, these places tend to have owners that like good wine. I have had some opus one from some of the best years 1994 1997, they taste like liquid heaven. Not only the taste but the way it feels and everything about it. There are many others that also just like heaven, but, $250. In this life I could buy 700 feet of fencing with $250, fence of almost and acre of pasture and raise ten pigs on that acre, that's about $7000 worth of pig at market. So I say give me the fence instead. But man, really good wine makes you think twice.

I would rather talk wine or pigs any day than listen to pres drone on.

tim in vermont said...

protocol demands

Sorry, the man is a lying sack of shit. Joe Wilson had him pegged. Protocol demanded that Joe Wilson not point out his lie? Sure. But it was still a lie. If protocol demands that we listen to a politician lie his ass off, the "protocol is an ass."

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Limited Blogger said...

Sorry, Ann, but the Onion totally has Ruth's number. This simply must be read.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/justice-ginsburg-throws-party-while-120yearold-par,29871/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Pic:NA:InFocus&recirc=good-times

jim murray said...

The house should not invite the president to address them. They should prefer that, like Jefferson, (s)he should write it out longhand and deliver it to be read.

Unknown said...

at least he didn't drool, that would have been gross