RUSH: A really great man died this morning. Robert Bork passed away, complications from heart disease. He became arrhythmic last night. They took him to the hospital in Virginia. They thought they had it stabilized and early this morning his heart started beating wildly and finally he passed away.
Robert Bork lived in Realville as well. He was a brilliant author and judge, jurist, solicitor general for Richard Nixon. He was the man who did the so-called Saturday Night Massacre for Nixon during Watergate. Nixon ordered a bunch of people fired and the attorney general refused to do it. Bork stood up and did it. He wrote some books. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan, and nobody was prepared for what happened. And I believe that what happened to Bork was what began the modern era of character assassination in American politics via the reprobate Ted Kennedy and what he said about Bork on the Senate floor.
The Reagan administration wasn’t prepared for it. Bork, nobody, was prepared for out-and-out lies to be told. Nobody knew how to counter it. Most people assumed that it would be seen as the rantings of a lunatic partisan Democrat and forgotten. It wasn’t. Kennedy’s rant began what shaped Bork’s entire nomination, and he was not confirmed. He was devastated by it. Being on the Supreme Court to him was the pinnacle of life in his chosen field. He deserved to be there as much as anybody who’s ever been nominated. Brilliant mind, a devoted believer in the Constitution, believed in the concept of original intent.
But they lied about him. In fact, he was maybe the first victim of the so-called War on Women, manufactured War on Women. I got to know him after that happened. Early on in the history of this program we did a series of seminars called the National Conservative Forum in various parts of the country, and I put together various conservative media people and professionals to show up and basically give speeches, lectures, take questions from the audience, two-hour seminars. At the end of each one all the guests would sit at a roundtable which I would moderate. They were quite interesting and fun, and Judge Bork came to a couple of them.
I always introduced him by pointing out what I thought were his supreme qualifications, his attributes and his great character and how I wished that he was unavailable for these events because he would be sitting on the Supreme Court. The first time I met Bork was to interview him. I was still working in Sacramento. I went to Washington for a week, took my show there for a week. And the powers that be were insistent that I do guests. They thought you can’t do a talk show without guests. So they dangled this carrot, sending me to Washington for a week, as long as I would secure guests, which I did.
I had help from a lot of people in putting together a pretty good guest roster that week. People like George Will; had Vitaly Churkin, who was then a popular Soviet communist spy appearing unthreateningly on Nightline every other week. I remember, in fact, the night before Churkin was to show up, I’m in my hotel room at the Mayflower, which is right across the street from the ABC studios on Desales St. I’m figuring that they’ve had to do a background check on me at the Soviet embassy before they accepted the invitation. So I’m sitting in the room and I’m speaking, I went to every lampshade, and I said, “Please, Mr. Churkin, don’t back out,” thinking the room was bugged. And I’m thinking if it is, I’m gonna make one last shot to make sure the guy shows up. He shows up, great interview.
But then Bork came, and I forget what the interview was about. It was a little bit about his nomination, but there were other things that had happened. It might have been the culture war. He had written a book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, but I think that came after this interview. His son was with him on the other side of the glass. I forget what the question was. I asked him a pretty pointed question that he didn’t want to answer, and he danced around it. The interview ended, went to commercial break. He left the studio, shook hands. He’s standing on the other side of the glass and I made one of the few errors that I have ever made as a radio host.
I stated something to the effect that, “Well, even though Judge Bork didn’t answer the question, I think we all know what he meant,” and then I presumed to answer it for him. And he and his son were standing on the other side of that glass and they were fuming. Because what I had just done was not very professional. It was harmless; I don’t remember what it was. But his answer was what shoulda stood. I should not have presumed to tell people what I hoped he really meant or thought he really meant. So later that afternoon, I was informed how angry and upset Judge Bork was, and I tried to get a hold of him and apologize. They would not take the call. I fretted over this for a long time.
And shortly after that, my program got the opportunity to move from Sacramento to New York. In August of ’88, I started it, and shortly after that (maybe my first year), there was an event at The Pierre hotel. I don’t remember what it was. I’m not sure it was the Tom Wolfe lecture. Whatever. It was somewhere Bork was. Might have been this at The Pierre hotel. Tom Wolfe was awarded the Wriston Lecture on something or other. He was talking about Bonfire of the Vanities, a book he had written.
Bork was there, and I ran up to him, and I profusely apologized, and he acted like he had no idea who I was (chuckles), and then remembered and said, “It’s no big deal. If this apology has helped you purge your guilt, I’m happy to participate,” or some such thing. After that, we were on good terms for the rest of his life. He was one of the funniest speakers that I’ve ever heard. I remember an American Spectator dinner one year in Washington.
He just had people rolling. He was talking about the Kennedy event, and it was clearly something that bothered him. Let me play what Kennedy said. He had to live with this for the rest of his life, knowing full well that this was a pack of absolute lies. Had Kennedy not been protected by his Senate membership, Bork could have sued the Kennedy family into poverty over these slanderous comments. Here’s what Kennedy said on June 23rd of 1987.
I think this is the beginning of the present era which features the politics of personal destruction. This is the first time that it worked in a major, prominent way. It showed the Democrats the way forever after, and the feature of this is that everything Ted Kennedy says here is an out-and-out lie, a misstatement, a mischaracterization. However you want to term it. It’s his description of what will happen in America and to America, and to women in America, if Robert Bork were to ever be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
KENNEDY: Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and school children could not be taught about evolution. Writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government. And the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is and is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.
RUSH: That was so outrageous that, at the time, people were questioning Kennedy’s purpose and sanity. None of that is even close to true. It was indescribably insulting and slanderous. Bork had to live with this the rest of his life knowing full well that a reprobate like Ted Kennedy was responsible, and then he had to live with the Democrats celebrating it. Then he had to live with the Democrats capitalizing on it, using this style against other people. He had to listen to Democrats and the media applaud the tactic! Kennedy was not through. Here’s…
This is one of the great moments in our history, and it’s disgusting as it can be.
Here’s one more from that Kennedy rant on the Senate floor…
KENNEDY: America is a better and freer nation than Robert Bork thinks. Yet in the current delicate balance of the Supreme Court his rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be. The damage that President Reagan will do through this nomination, if it is not rejected by the Senate, could live on far beyond the end of his presidential term. President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate, and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and on the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
RUSH: And so was codified the description of conservatives and how to deal with them. Robert Bork passed away today, and it’s an utter shame that he did not realize his dream sitting on the US Supreme Court. He would have been one of the premiere justices to have ever sat.
RUSH: Let me give you a timely quote from Judge Bork. He said, “A society deadened by a smothering network of laws while finding release in moral chaos is not likely to be either happy or stable.” Judge Bork. He was 87. Regardless, he’s passed away, and it’s a great loss.