This is NOT Compassion

Well, not necessarily.  We have no reason to believe that when Obama comforts the student when she breaks down 5:15 that this is an act of compassion.

That Obama has chosen to highlight this issue and that he talks about the difficulties that facing many Americans on low income is much better evidence of his compassion. So we have some good reasons to believe that Obama may be a compassionate kind of guy and that context may lead us to believe, in this instance, that this was a compassionate action (it depends upon to what extent the motivation was to relive her suffering and to what extent it was to get some priceless coverage for the campaign).  Her breaking down and his touching reaction to it may of course bring forth compassion from us (but perhaps not if our reaction is dominated by ‘that’s my man’)

But the incident by itself is poor evidence of compassion.  Many politicians that aren’t so good in front of cameras or connect so effortlessly with strangers may be equally compassionate yet perform quite much less telegenically.  The problem is that we are all looking on while this man runs for president, so he has powerful motivations for behaving the way he did that have nothing to do with compassion.

I am of course delighted that he did do this and I was touched, but I am forced to treat any understandable  temptation to feel pride in his compassion on the basis of this with suspicion.  For that we must look elsewhere.

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