Thursday, May 28, 2009

Word of the Day: Empathy

It seems we have come a long way since the conversation about the "pube on the coke can" that we all heard about during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

And there seems to be (at least for now) less outrage expressed about Sonia Sotomayor than that which erupted over the Bork nomination for SCOTUS way back in the Reagan era.

And though I confess I haven't read obsessively about Obama's pick for the US Supreme Court, I haven't heard the word "abortion" bandied about much over the nominee.

No, the buzz that's racing through the blogosphere about Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's first nominee for the Supreme Court, is focused on a single word.

Empathy.

Though the Republicans have not yet made it known if they're going to "bork" Sotomayer's nomination, we should be heartened, I guess, that much of the chatter swirling about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayer concerns the quality of her "empathy."

Why, then, do I feel like "empathy" is about to turn into a bomb to be lobbed at the Sotomayor nomination?

Oh, just a quick perusal of what the MSM has to say about Sotomayor and her empathy...

Karl Rove says in the WSJ that:


"'Empathy' is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn't pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would generate voter backlash."

Another article also in the WSJ says:

"In the President's now-famous word, judging should be shaped by "empathy" as much or more than by reason. In this sense, Judge Sotomayor would be a thoroughly modern Justice, one for whom the law is a voyage of personal identity."

Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez writes on CNN.com that:
"As impressive as Sotomayor's life story is, it remains to be seen whether she truly has the much-talked-about "empathy" for Hispanic values and dreams."

Sonia Sotomayor is a jurist who received her undergraduate degree from Princeton (summa cum laude) and who received her law degree from Yale. She was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to sit on the US District Court in NY. She was later named by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the US Court of Appeals. Should she become a Supreme Court justice, she will be the only one of the nine with experience as a trial judge.

At one point, clearly, she exhibited bi-partisan appeal. But not today. She seems smart, experienced, but perhaps too vocal about her Latina heritage to make the right wingers feel good about this choice. So they focus on her "empathy" as the thing that they find disturbing about her.

And a word that defines the action of understanding and being sensitive to the feelings and thoughts experienced by others is now "the latest code word for liberal activism." Kind of like how "he's not like us" became the new millennial conservative code for the 'n' word.

But hey, at least we've moved away from pubes and outrage, right?

3 comments:

Ted said...

Empathy = where ends justify the means.

Chip Williams said...

I think you will find that the Republican senators fall in line for fear of alienating their hispanic voters. They need to puff up and pound their chests a bit before casting their consenting votes.

Chip Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.