An enduring, if annoying article of liberal faith is that since average Americans are, by definition, behind the elitists' cultural curve, they're inherently in need of correction. The latest instruction is being administered by President Obama and his leftist pals in Congress and their foot soldiers in the media, and the subject, in case you're the type to not pay attention class, is empathy.
I could choose any of dozens of news reports or editorials which are all part of the national curricula, but Gloria Borger, a "senior political analyst for CNN" has an illustrative piece at CNNPolitics.com, so we'll use that for our counter-culture lesson. Well before Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee, I wrote that he would target a "stealth" candidate, someone culturally difficult to pigeonhole, a person politically immune from rigorous scrutiny.
The litmus test for such a candidate is that she (it had to be a 'she') would be so impervious to criticism that Republicans would be fighting among themselves, some seduced by the tacit argument that empathy and judicial impartiality aren't, in fact, mutually exclusive. Well, of course they're not, but the question is whether a substantive reliance on "life experiences" versus a fidelity to law is what our Founders contemplated and what is enshrined in our Constitution?
In light of the cloud of civic confusion that hovers over America, Obama's choice was tactfully ingenious because it had the intended result of confounding Republicans and delighting Democrats. Having successfully seeded identity politics into our cultural loam, the left now sits back and smirks, confident that we all implicitly avow the veracity of race and ethnicity as reflective of values and principles. Add to that noxious mix the notion that gender makes the jurist, and you have just the right formula for a left-of-center legal temperament.
So, we have the practical Republicans among us cautioning conservatives not to lose sight of 2012, that our strategy in dealing with Sotomayor must be conditioned with an adroit understanding of the nuanced moderate or Independent voter, lest we cede electoral real estate to the Democrats. In truth, for far too long many on the right have unwittingly adopted the left's duplicitous recommendation that bipartisanship requires them to accept disparately deep political concessions. And, with their army of media flooding the zone and quick to characterize principled opposition as mean and uncaring, it's no wonder their arguments have achieved cultural traction.
A telling, early response by many liberal commentators and legal analysts was their pre-emptive shock that any Republican would see political advantage in challenging this nominee. You see, it doesn't occur to these masterful political tacticians that we might just be opposing her on principle. Indeed, that we sincerely believe that judicial activism--use empathy, or the euphemism of your choice--is anathema to our judicial system, is entirely lost on them.
The problem is that many Republicans are myopically subscribing to the same myth, fearful that a principled opposition to a candidate who is on record as asserting that a Caucasian male is innately less wise than a Latina female--i.e., herself--is ill-advised, that we should tone it down a bit.
Succinctly stated, although we should always be respectful and never harsh or shrill, principles shouldn't be conditioned by political expedience.