July 5, 2007

"I was very impressed with his theme of seeing yourself in others. It’s a resonant theme here."

The Politico reports on the strong impression Barack Obama made with an Iowan community devoted to Transcendental Meditation, and the closest it can come to finding something that might count against Obama is that he "had positioned himself in alignment with the rotation of the earth, in accordance with the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi." This proved annoying to the photographers. But I have to laugh. It's so hard to get anything on Obama, isn't it?

The quote above comes from someone in the audience, who seems thoughtful and intelligent.
“Somehow we have lost the capacity to recognize ourselves in each other,” Obama said, to an intently nodding crowd of at least 1,000. “You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit,” he continued, to applause.
Oooh! They nodded. Intently.

32 comments:

Tim said...

Excellent. Our plans are coming together nicely.

Obama locks down a critical cohort of the electorate. Next up, the Bonsai Clubs...

We're unstoppable.

Pogo said...

Florence King on "The difference between sympathy and empathy"

The Nineties have blurred the original distinction between sympathy and empathy and the dictionaries have followed suit, but just for old times' sake, here it is: We sympathize with people whose troubles are different from ours; we empathize with people in the same boat. "I feel your pain" is empathy, but "I can imagine your pain" is sympathy.

That sympathy is obviously the nobler emotion explains why it has fallen out of favor with Americans. In the first place, it's too hard, demanding not only thoughtful reflection but a certain amount of serious reading. Second, it smacks of elitism. Lastly, sympathy compels us to touch the third rail of egalitarian democracy: the generalization. Once we utter the words "I can imagine" we enter the realm of broad, sweeping thought, which tends to produce broad, sweeping statements, which, as we all know, tend to hit the multi- cultural fan with a horrendous splat.

How much safer, then, to trade the wide-ranging heroics of sympathy for empathy's nonjudgmental inclusiveness and reassuring common touch. We made the switch the way we always do, by constant repetition of the word, until everybody was empathizing with everybody else and reciting "I identify with" and "I can relate to" over every conceivable foible and calamity that flesh and spirit are heir to, all in the name of a level suffering field."

Lonesome Payne said...

Whatever word is used, one thing you can bet about most liberals - including, I'd presume, the writer of the story - is that what they'd mean with their intense nodding is that it's conservatives who have lost the ability or willingness to empathize/sympathize.

Jeff said...

Goo goo ga ga.

Roger said...

to add a snippit to Payne's comment: it isnt that conservatives have lost the ability to sym/empathize, it's just that we dont feel compelled to fix what we are sympathetic about.

Tim said...

"is that what they'd mean with their intense nodding is that it's conservatives who have lost the ability or willingness to empathize/sympathize."

Boy, is that ever true.

Which is why, of course, somewhere north of 90% of all U.S. Liberals, Obama included, want to abandon innocent Iraqis to the fate of murderous, genocidal sectarian ethnic cleansing.

Because of their much deeper ability to empathize.

SteveR said...

What we've lost is people raised and educated to think for themselves. And therefore able to be self sufficient financially and emotionally. Oh hell, I can't go on with this..just watch Oprah and Dr Phil, that will get you on the right track.

Tim said...

"...it's just that we dont feel compelled to fix what we are sympathetic about."

Right. Invoking empathy is the Left writing itself an all day ticket to ride for ever-expansive government. What possible limit could there be on our capacity for empathy?

Pogo said...

I have a hard time recognize myself in TMers, who believe they have the ability to become invisible, can see hidden things, are able to walk through walls, and can fly through the air.

Can Obama perform vedic flying?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Since Fairfield, Iowa is at 41 degrees north, and Obama was facing east as he delivered the speech, in order to be "in alignment with the rotation of the earth" he would have had to be leaning 49 degrees to the left. What Higher Power kept him from falling over?

Balfegor said...

“You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit,” he continued, to applause.

He sounds so corny . . . yet so creepy. Very Ministry of Love.

Re: Zrimsek:

What Higher Power kept him from falling over?

Look, he's the Messiah, don't you know? The Herald of the End of the World! He can walk on water. Leaning a bit is nothing!

LordSomber said...

“You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit,” he continued, to applause."

“They say we use only ten percent of our brains. I think we only use only ten percent of our hearts”
-- Owen Wilson, Wedding Crashers

Kirk said...

Paul,

Are you telling me Obama doesn't lean to the left???

paul a'barge said...

Obama was facing east as he delivered the speech, in order to be "in alignment with the rotation of the earth"

At least he wasn't facing east so he could be facing Mecca.

Oh dear. Was he?

jane said...

I hear this alot- that Dems emote and empathize, while Repubs are remote and intellectualize- and it's almost a female versus male exaggerated characterization.

At home or with friends, hand-holding’s good from time to time. As a nation, though, do we really need (more) touch-feely understanding instead of imparting an inspired ‘can-do but buck-up despite’ attitude? People individually or collectively can rise to the occasion or crumple, depending on their sense of victimhood or agency and especially on expectations.

What a choice- Hillary the Hun or Obama as Oprah.

Internet Ronin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Internet Ronin said...

“Somehow we have lost the capacity to recognize ourselves in each other,”

We have? News to me. Have seen plenty of it in recent days. Nothing to make headlines, though.

“You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit,”.

They do? Not many people I know talk a lot about the federal deficit. Far fewer, at least, than those who I witness demonstrating personal empathy on a regular basis. Sounds like a simplistic Stuart Smalleyesque observation to me.

Stephen said...

Too bad that the First Amendment forbids a national church. Barack Obama would have my vote as the perfect High Priest of the loveallpeoplesanimalsandthewholewideworld "religion" embraced by secular America (and my own liberal Protestant denomination) in the early part of the 21st century.

lee david said...

It's so hard to get anything on Obama because there isn't anything to be gotten, besides a superfluity of superficial generality and platitude. Why we should find this attractive in a candidate strains the limits of credulity.

Thorley Winston said...

He sounds so corny . . . yet so creepy. Very Ministry of Love.

“Creepy” is definitely the right word for Barack Obama. The way he talks about the souls of people he hasn’t met and doesn’t know as if he has some particular insight into their lives and if we just trust him with the keys to the country he’ll fix what he thinks is wrong with them spiritually just wigs me out. Maybe it’s the inherent phoniness or maybe it’s the realization that in this fellow’s warped collectivist worldview “spirituality” isn’t an individual concern, it’s a collective/pubic matter which needs to be controlled for the “public good” like education, health care, the economy, child care, et all.

AJ Lynch said...

Tim:

Good one ! if Obama follws your plan (Trans Meds followed by the Bonsai Clubs), that would probably put him over 200 votes (popular not electoral).

Thorley Winston said...

It's so hard to get anything on Obama because there isn't anything to be gotten, besides a superfluity of superficial generality and platitude. Why we should find this attractive in a candidate strains the limits of credulity.

Because some people think it would be really, really, really neat if we finally had a Black president and so far all of the others* who have ran for the office have other been outright corrupt (Jackson, Sharpton) or imploded in public (Keyes). It’s part of the leftover guilt from the “civil rights” movement that White America needs to prove they’ve atoned by electing the First Black President and so long as s/he is “well-spoken and clean” we’re supposed to elect that person to prove how far we’ve come as a country. We’re not supposed to look at where s/he actually stands on the issues or whether they have the kind of life experience and skills that would make them a good President – unless someone can come up with a reason not to elect them, this is just something we need to do.

Got it?

* Carol who?

Telecomedian said...

So the TMs might be a little out there, but Fairfield was one of my favorite towns to visit when I lived in Iowa from 1998 to 2000. They might be batty, but many of the Maharisi-trained folks were quite intelligent and extremely cultured. The perfect audience for Obama to make such a speech.

And, given the general apathy of the country, perhaps he's on to something. There's no denying that we're a more quick-tempered society than we were even 20 years ago. Road rage, school shootings, suspensions of civil rights - there's a lot we should be mad about, but seem to be powerless to stop.

It'll be interesting if this becomes a bigger tenet of his campaign.

reader_iam said...

Ommm, yessssss ... Fairfield, Iowa. A place unto itself. Intent and nodding isn't the half of it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

A generation ago we missed our chance to elect President Moonbeam; shall we be found wanting again? Vote for Jerrack Obrowna!

Internet Ronin said...

Reader_Iam I thought you were going to post from your iPhone while on vacation. I've been looking for those post every day. What happened? Or are you using it now?

blake said...

Lord Somber,

HA! That's what I was thinking!

Now we just need him to add, "I don't like to talk about it. We lost a lot of good men out there."

Lars said...

“You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit,” he continued, to applause."

If he keeps up with this vapid drool
he's going to need to worry about the attention deficit.

Robert said...

It’s part of the leftover guilt from the “civil rights” movement that White America needs to prove they’ve atoned by electing the First Black President and so long as s/he is “well-spoken and clean” we’re supposed to elect that person to prove how far we’ve come as a country.

I can understand why you put "well spoken" in scare quotes, but why civil rights?

Thorley Winston said...

“I can understand why you put "well spoken" in scare quotes, but why civil rights?”

Because at some point between the rightful ending of government-mandated discrimination based on race and the call for new government-mandated discrimination based on race, the term lost any legitimate meaning.

AlphaLiberal said...

Yikes.

Well, he's a good politician, I guess. Talking to his audience.

Glad I wasn't there.

Revenant said...

one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit

Amusingly, "an empathy deficit" could mean either (a) we feel more empathy for others than they feel for us (a parallel to the trade deficit) or (b) that we empathize more than we can afford to (a parallel to the budget deficit), just as easily as it could mean (c) that we lack empathy.