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Post Partisan
Posted at 04:30 PM ET, 09/07/2012

Empathize with me — or not

Now that we’ve all convened in our various Southern cities and cheered our various people in their various immobile hairstyles, it’s all over but the going back home and shouting.

PostScript suddenly realizes actually that politically, it’s ALWAYS all over but the shouting. And the shouting is never over. Which brings us to the post-cheering shouting time of DNC 2012, in the form of Charles Krauthammer’s evaluation of the various Obamas’ various speeches during the convention. As Krauthammer writes, Barack Obama has a tremendous advantage with voters in the category of “empathy,” which is probably why the race is so close. So Michelle and Barack both touted the dickens out of their empathy in their convention speeches. Krauthammer didn’t fall for it, but he basically admires their smooth-con moxie. Empathy, after all, is all about perception, not results. Its basic means of production is a speech.

As Krauthammer points out, personal ambition is the standard reason someone wants to become president, so it’s rhetorical work to make it look like President Obama is going through all of this hoopla only for us. And, Krauthammer concedes, the rhetoric worked pretty well. Obama wins the empathy battle, and it turns out to matter to voters quite a bit.

(PostScript observes that the empathy battle was a little one-sided in the sense that the Republican platform seemed to deliberately articulate the political philosophy Deal With It. But perhaps she is wrong. Let’s see if she can empathize with the pro- and anti-empaths.)

ReconDoc is pro:

Well, Charles, whether you agree or not, people do care if their President cares about them. People put a lot of stock in someone who cares about their struggles and tries to do something about it.

Bosworth2 is anti:

I don’t care if the President “cares” about my personal story. Or anyone else’s. I want him to “care” about doing his job and finding solutions; something that has eluded this president since he took office.

ecrutle disagrees entirely with PostScript. He or she finds the touchy-feelyness out of place, especially since it’s so unempathetic to Obama’s fellow Americans on the other side of the aisle:

I’m deeply offended by Obama’s own words that suggest GOP views on our national character suggest Republican views on freedom come without love, charity, sense of duty, or patriotism. That crosses a smell test line I find unforgivable, particularly when Democrats buy their loyalty with government handouts.

Cqyates, though, argues that both sides have empathy and buy loyalty, just for different groups of people:

What does Mitt want to give to this country? His entire platform is giveaways to favorite groups. He wants to increase defense spending by 2 trillion dollars, he wants another 5.3 trillion in tax cuts that are weighted towards the wealthy.
He wants to take away the chance that I will ever have health care, even though he thought it was a good idea before.

This doesn’t seem like that radical an idea to PostScript: that both presidential contenders are claiming their particular constituency is the party deserving of empathy and that the government should be rearranged to make things easier for them because they’ve been through such a rough time. And, magically, helping out our poor, disrespected wealthy job creators or our struggling, powerless minimum-wagers will also heal the economy for everyone else!

Let’s hope, out of empathy for those such as PostScript, youngish sorts who are the real backbone and heart of America, that this is an incredibly shallow analysis and there is a LOT more shouting to be done in order to get a handle on all this. Because PostScript really needs to keep her job. Thank you.

By Rachel Manteuffel  |  04:30 PM ET, 09/07/2012

 
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