Saturday, May 9, 2009

Empathy Schmempathy!

RNC chair denigrates Obama desire for empathy
By Beth Fouhy –

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has a message for President Barack Obama and his stated goal of replacing Justice David Souter with a judge who brings empathy to the Supreme Court bench: "Empathize right on your behind!"

Sitting in for host Bill Bennett on the "Morning in America" radio show Friday, Steele, a lawyer, said Obama should be searching for a judge who understands the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

"Crazy nonsense empathetic! I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness!" Steele told a radio audience.

Speaking to reporters last week to announce Souter's retirement, Obama said he would seek a replacement who combines an impeccable legal background with "empathy and understanding" for how the law is applied. -- Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Of course, as Media Matters pointed out about such stupidity spewing from the mouths of many TV & radio neo-cons:

"Blinded by the rest of Obama's statement, they ignored the simple fact that immediately after stating that he saw the "quality of empathy" as "an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes," Obama stated that he would "seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role."

When confronted with the President's actual words, those neo-cons put their fingers in their ears, closed their eyes tight and responded:
"Nah nah nah nah na I can't hear you I can't hear you I can't hear you nah nah nah nah na I can't hear you I can't hear you I can't hear you nah nah nah na I can't hear you I can't hear you I can't hear you..."

So what's all this fuss over the word "empathy" about?

Let's get a definition from
em⋅pa⋅thy [em-puh-thee]
1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

Right there in definition #1 we see the problem. There is something "intellectual" about the word, which automatically places it beyond the realm of a Republican's ability to understand. Intellectualism itself is something that the brainless lot fears and despises.

I don't think that definition #2 is what Obama had in mind -- but the goombah fascists in the GOP are very familiar -- by practice -- with "imaginative ascribing to [someone], feelings or attitudes present in oneself."

It makes sense, right? So if the Republicans are against empathy then they must be in favor of its opposite, right? For those unfamiliar with a dictionary (i.e. Republicans) opposite meanings are known as "antonyms." In the case of "empathy," its antonyms are, "apathy, misunderstanding and unfeelingness."

Yeah. That sounds about right for what the Republicans look for in nominees when they have a position to fill on the Supreme Court.

As always, Jon Stewart and the Daily Show has the best take on it all. At the tail end of his report on the announcement of Justice Souter's retirement comes the best expose of the GOP's anti-empathetic bent anywhere. Take it, Jon...
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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