In a speech at Wheeling, West Virginia ,Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) made a sensational charge: “I have here in my hand a list of 205 — a list of names that were made known to the Government as being committed empathizers and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in Obama administration.”
Sensing that President Obama is vulnerable to the accusation of being “soft on empathy,” Republicans escalated their attacks. “Obama wants to appoint an empathizer to the Supreme Court,” Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) charged. “What’s next? Legalized marriage between empathetic people? Affirmative action for empathizers? Empathy in public schools?” Sen. Kyl promised that he would introduce legislation requiring all government employees to sign hostility oaths, and a constitution amendment prohibiting empathetic marriage.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney joined the assault. “Under my administration, I mean the George W. Bush administration, America remained safe because all senior personnel were venomous, quarrelsome, and antagonistic. Even under the stress of Hurricane Katrina, no one ever stooped to empathy. Show me an empathizer and I’ll show you a terrorist. Empathy invites another 9/11.”
The ranking house republican on the House Committee on Un-Malevolent Activities, Joe Barton, R-Texas, pledged to “Crush empathy whenever and wherever we find it.” Barton blamed “wimpy, touchy-feely, empathizing liberals” for blocking legislation mandating a daily “Pledge of Belligerence” in public schools. Coining a new word, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh labeled Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other leading Democrats “empath-addicts who are preaching ‘love your enemies,’ and ‘turn the other cheek,’” Limbaugh contended. “Well, I answer that we are a Christian nation and should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
Democrats reacted swiftly to the imputation of empathy. “You can’t fool the public’” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid retorted. “Everybody knows we’re pricks — offensive, nasty, mean spirited pricks.”
“Empathy, my ass,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added. “I challenge the Republicans to find a single piece of legislation that displays empathy for anyone other than union leaders, lobbyists, and bankers."
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