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Steele: Perez Hilton Is Obama's Kind Of "Empathetic Judge"

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Michael Steele has made perhaps the most peculiar case yet against President Obama's criteria for choosing a Supreme Court nominee. It involves the questioning that Miss California received about her stance on gay marriage, and ends with a "slippery slope this nation is putting itself on."

Making a guest-host appearance on Bill Bennett's radio show on Friday, the RNC Chairman waded into the always-touchy area between pop culture and politics. But the analogy he drew was more tortured than illuminating. Hoping to argue against selecting judges based on their empathy (a quality favored by Obama), Steele firmly placed himself in tabloid terrain.

"What was so outstanding about Miss California, let's do a little parallel... This is what an empathetic judge looks like," Steele said of celeb-blogger Perez Hilton. "The empathetic judge in this case, the judge of the beauty pageant, asked this woman a question and instead of taking her answer at face value, he was empathetic to a particular community and he thought her answer should be favorably disposed towards that particular community. And as a consequence she answered a different way. She answered honestly. She answered based on the facts of her situation, the facts of her upbringing, the facts of this country, which by and large sides with her."

"To even get off on this tangent of asking her a socially controversial question and then getting ticked off because you don't like her answer. Then what the heck did you ask the question for? Just because she is Miss California you presume she is going to have a left-of-center answer on gay marriage? Come on. This is the slippery slope this nation is putting itself on and I'm telling you folks to stop it. Don't go there."

For an RNC Chairman to reference the top cultural controversy of the day, let alone use Perez Hilton as leverage for a partisan attack, is certainly reflective of a new approach to messaging from the GOP.

To be fair, it was the questioner who first brought up the Miss California controversy, in which Hilton asked about her position on gay marriage, and subsequently trashed her answer for being (among other things) factually inaccurate. But the enthusiasm with which Steele approached the topic -- "you hit the nail on the head," he told the caller -- does little to quiet the critics who, in public and private, marvel at how the new Chairman just can't avoid headline grabbing statements or gaffes.

Here is the full transcript of the relevant segment:

Questioner: "Michael. This guy doesn't care about the rule of law so none of that stuff matters to him, he really just does care about empathy but he is just trying to make some kind of cross road. But, what is really scary about these people is, like, and I hate to bring up something that sounds kind of trite. But this beauty, this Miss California thing underscores the fact that these people want to control our minds."

Steele: Yea.

Questioner: They are not satisfied with us having an opinion. They want us not to express it at all and they want us not to have an opinion. That is why this Miss California thing is so insidious and people accept it; that is what is even worse

Steele: You hit the nail on the head here Myron and it is not a trivial point that you are making. What was so outstanding about Miss California... Actually, let's do a little parallel. This is again, again, a parallel to, this is what an empathetic judge looks like. The empathetic judge in this case, the judge of the beauty pageant, asked this woman a question and instead of taking her answer at face value, he was empathetic to a particular community and he thought her answer should be favorably disposed towards that particular community. And as a consequence she answered a different way. She answered honestly. She answered based on the facts of her situation, the facts of her upbringing, the facts of this country, which by and large sides with her.

Because he was empathetic to a particular community, the result for her was different. You are making a very good point. And the consequence then becomes that in order for me standing before a triar of fact or sitting before some tribunal or group of individuals who are looking at my situation, is that I have to change the way I look at things in order to progress to move beyond where I am. In other words, I have now got to be empathetic to the same things that this judge is empathetic to in order to win this pageant... In order for me to win, I now have to conform my thinking to that of the triar of fact or the judge of the beauty contest. It is crazy.

[Snip]

To even get off on this tangent of asking her a socially controversial question and then getting ticked off because you don't like her answer. Then what the heck did you ask the question for? Just because she is Miss California you presume she is going to have a left of center answer on gay marriage? Come on. This is the slippery slope this nation is putting itself on and I'm telling you folks to stop it. Don't go there.


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