George Will
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     Now, some people might think that detachment is a good thing in a judge -- that it might be the virtue called judiciousness. Never mind. Feinstein's real worry is, she said, Roberts' failure to explain how he planned to be ``in touch'' with ``the problems real people have out there.'' She was dismayed by the inadequacy of his discussion of ``the importance of reaching out to communities that he normally would not be in contact with, and spending time to understand the problems that average people face, in my communities of Hunters Point, of East L.A., of some of the agriculture areas of our state.''

     Feinstein said, ``His answer failed to recognize the point of the question and the concern about staying in touch with people who have different life experiences.'' Well, what was the point of the question?

     At the risk of revealing a serious empathy deficit, one might ask: What is the importance of a Supreme Court justice understanding the problems of lettuce farmers in California's Central Valley? How, in the course of performing his judicial duties, does a justice reach out to, and stay in touch with, those farmers? Perhaps justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two of Feinstein's pin-ups, routinely do the empathetic things that Roberts, Feinstein has decided, does not know how to do, or is too emotionally impoverished to do. But how does any of what Feinstein was talking about pertain to judging?

     Remarkably, Feinstein was reading her statement. So her mare's nest of inapposite words and unclear thoughts cannot be excused as symptoms of Biden's Disease, that form of logorrhea that causes victims, such as Sen. Joe Biden, to become lost on the syntactical backroads of their extemporaneous rhetoric.

     Feinstein should have been more fluent because she was talking, as senators are wont to do, about ... herself. Some of her ``questions'' to Roberts were a familiar form of preening, of moral exhibitionism. They were an example of how liberals compete, mostly among themselves, in the sensitivity sweepstakes. She might as well have simply said: Look here, Roberts, are you or are you not in my league as a world-class reacher-outer to, and a stayer-in-touch with, plain people?

     Cue the violin.

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George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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