It's the Empathy, Stupid

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 15, 2008 12:04 PM
Yesterday, here, I noted that Barack's assessment of "bitter" small-town people was a predictable outgrowth of the "elite" intellectual environment in which he had lived.  And in the third hour of Hugh Hewitt's radio show, I tried to make the point that -- in his own mind, and in the minds of many liberals -- Barack is actually being empathetic in his statements.  It's not that the small-town God-and-guns lovers are evil, or religious zealots, or anything else, you see (as a significant number of lefties actually believe); they're just bitter . . . more to be pitied than blamed.

Well, today, Richard Cohen makes the same point even more eloquently:

It was, as [Obama] conceded, a bumbling attempt at expressing an economic truth. But the true spirit of what Obama said was not condescension, but empathy. People were hurting. They were bitter. He understood.

Obviously, none of this mitigates the offensiveness of the comments, nor alters the fact that they are incredibly obtuse and condescending.  But it does explain why Barack -- and many of his defenders -- seem genuinely outraged about the firestorm of criticism that his comments have elicited.