Transcript: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

So it's going to be interesting as to how they frame this. But I think Obama would welcome another fight, which is a fight about empathy.

(LAUGHTER)

I think that, if the Republicans want to cast themselves as opponents of empathy, that would be a very interesting argument.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: George, go right ahead.

WILL: Well, I actually don't think empathy is -- is the test. In fact, I think it can be a judicial defect. We all are familiar with, and are going to hear over and over again, the famous story of Justice Holmes leaving lunch with Learned Hand. Learned Hand says, "Mr. Justice, do justice." Justice Holmes stopped his carriage and said to Learned Hand, "That's not my job, to do justice. My job is to apply the law."

(LAUGHTER)

DIONNE: And if reading the Constitution were like reading a cookbook, we wouldn't have so many 5-4 decisions.

(LAUGHTER)

BROOKS: If I could just speak up for the Oprah wing of the conservative movement...

(LAUGHTER)

... I am, sort of, pro-empathy. I don't think we can have automatons. I don't think there are automatons in the universe. People make decisions based on emotional reactions, even people wearing black robes.

And to me, the Republican Party would be in a lot stronger position if they framed the argument -- say it's on civil rights -- this way. We can either lower the standards for some groups or we can empower people to meet those standards through education, through 8 million policies I've already -- already suggested.

The problem is the Republicans haven't suggested those policies. They haven't talked about ways to get groups up so they can meet all these, say, firefighter standards.

WILL: Let's also remember that the presidents have to be surprised by whomever he appoints. Roosevelt was chagrined by the results of appointing Felix Frankfurter. David Souter, who this person is replacing, was certainly a surprise to the conservatives. Harry Truman when, in the steel seizure case, two of his appointees ruled against him, said, when you appoint a man to the Supreme Court, you lose a friend.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I wonder if that's...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... if that's no longer true.

(CROSSTALK)

WILL: Because of the thoroughness?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because of the thoroughness of the vetting process.

WILL: Could be.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've seen the last four -- the last four appointees, both Democrat and Republican, have performed pretty much according to form.

Let's switch subjects, right now, to the big debate of the past week, President Obama up against former Vice President Dick Cheney.

And it seemed like the parties were really maneuvering for political advantage this week, as well, the president trying to seize back the debate.

And by the end of the week, both parties had put out ads, the Republican Party and Democratic allies also putting out an ad on behalf of the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: To close it, to close it not.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: We've made some hasty decisions.

(UNKNOWN): These are the stakes.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Guantanamo, that's easy. Close down Guantanamo. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Last week, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress cracked down on credit card abuse. Congress said no to the bank lobby and yes to consumers. To their credit, Congress is finally getting the idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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