Opinion Brief

Obama's empathy problem

Is the president's "emotional aridity" hurting the Democrats' chances in the midterm elections?

With the sour economy threatening to cost Democrats in the midterm elections, President Obama is under pressure to convince Americans that he feels their pain. In a flurry of public appearances, Obama has said that he is "acutely" aware of the difficulties people face as foreclosures mount and millions remain jobless. "The fact of the matter is as long as unemployment is as high as it is... people are going to be hurting," Obama said. Is he doing enough?

More empathy, please: In the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama said our lack of empathy was this country's "essential deficit," says Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast. "Yet, as president, Obama has demonstrated an almost pathological incapacity to connect with Americans' fear and despair over the future." Remember that woman's "heartbreaking pleading at a recent town hall meeting"? Obama has shown too much of "much ballyhooed coolness" — without having an unpresidential "meltdown," he needs to show he feels our pain."Obama's empathy deficit"

Empathy doesn't pay the bills: Maybe Obama does display a "Spock-like emotional aridity" sometimes, says John Harwood in The New York Times. Still, the president has made every effort to connect with ordinary Americans, holding town hall meetings and backyard gatherings with suburban families — even appearing on "The View." It hasn't helped for a simple reason: In a bad economy, "dollars and cents matter far more" in midterm elections than "hugs or lip-biting.""Obama, empathy and the midterms"

The real problem is his arrogance: Barack Obama's "cool, imperious, arrogant style" was effective "when he was taking potshots at George W. Bush during the campaign," says Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker. As president, it is simply "a turn-off for the citizenry." Obama will never "find his 'inner Clinton'" because his "disdain for ordinary people" shows whenever he goes "off the carefully scripted teleprompter.""Obama's empathy gap"

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