There are lot of laudable qualities a person might have -- honesty, intelligence, temperance -- and probably most people in the world would agree that "empathy," the ability to identify with another human being's feelings and circumstances, is one of them. But prominent conservatives have been slamming President Obama for saying empathy is one of the things he's going to look for in potential replacements for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
On Wednesday, during an appearance on NPR's "Tell Me More," former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales got in on the act. (Hat-tip to Think Progress' Matt Corley.) Here's the transcript:
MICHEL MARTIN: I wanted to again cite the president’s words when he said, “I view the quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential quality for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” I wanted to ask you, Attorney General Gonzales, do you think that, do you agree with that? Do think that’s appropriate?
GONZALES: Well, I think everyone wants to think that their government officials are kind, compassionate people. And I think someone having that kind of image is certainly helpful in a confirmation hearing. I do worry a little bit, well, I worry, I worry about about justices on the court making decisions based on what they think makes them feel good. I don’t think it’s fair to expect society to anticipate the outcome of a case based upon what makes a justice feel good. In essence what you’re saying, I think, is that "I’m going to, I don’t care what the law says, I’m going to come out, I’m going to pursue an outcome that I think is fair and just. I’m going to rewrite the law." And I think that’s dangerous.