During confirmation hearings in 2009, GOP senators questioned Sonia Sotomayor about her supposed 'empathy standard' and partiality. Since becoming a Supreme Court justice, her views on two capital cases show no cause for the concern, but rather attention to a fair legal process.
Peter Orszag is an economic policy wonk who was director of the Office of Management and Budget. But Citigroup hired him less for his PhD or analytical dexterity than for his 'social capital.' It's a potent reminder that in business, as in politics, who you know (or who wants to know you) often counts more than that what you know.
Because Obama has avoided engaging the empathy debate, Republicans tried to use Kagan's mentor and former US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as a way to taint Kagan's reputation.
President Obama praised Elena Kagan for her intellect and passion, but he only hinted at the quality he earlier deemed an essential ingredient in a Supreme Court justice: empathy.
The business of business may be business, but the business of life is not.