Saturday, May 29, 2010


Crises are opportunities. He has consistently missed them. This was a grand opportunity to pull together the threads -- BP and the spill, Massey and the mine disaster, Wall Street and the economic disaster, Anthem BlueCross and health care, the Arizona Immigration Law, Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- even Afghanistan. The press threw him fastballs straight down the middle, and he hit dribblers every time.

no unifying narrative, no patriotic call to the nation on the full gamut of issues. Instead, there were only hints, suggestions, possible implications, notes of concern

The central idea is Empathy. Democracy is based on empathy, on people caring about one another and acting to the very best of their ability on that care, for their families, their communities, their nation, and the world. Government must also care and act on that care. Government's job is to protect and empower its citizens.

That idea is what draws together all the threads. The bottom line for corporations (whether BP, Massey, Anthem or Goldman Sachs) is money, not empathy. The bottom line for those who hate (whether homophobes, the Arizona Legislature, or al Qaeda) is domination and oppression, not empathy.

The right-wing, which shows little empathy, has confused empathy with sympathy for individuals, which they see as a weakness.

Future generations, the sacredness of nature over the immediate economic consequences, caring for this incredible bounty that we have, identifying with folks who see fishing as part of who they are, analogies to what's been happening in the financial markets, soul searching.

But to make it central and powerful would be confrontational. It would bring him head-to-head with right-wing ideology -- empathy-free, self-interest maximizing, with disdain or even hatred for those seen as lesser beings. It is self-reinforcing: a value-system that above all promotes that value-system itself.

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