Alicublog reports that “Michele Bachmann attacks Obama for an alleged lack of ‘empathy’ for the little guy,” and the wave of concern over Obama’s alleged emotional detachment from the Average Citizen rolls through the obedient wingnut punditry.
The idea that Republicans have even the slightest shred of “empathy for the little guy” is incredibly laughable, but what’s more interesting is the fact that the wingnutteria seems to have done a complete 180 on the value of empathy. In their typical fashion of seizing whatever talking point is convenient for the moment, they’ve forgotten that two years ago, they were up in arms when Obama stated that empathy was an important quality for a Supreme Court justice.
They were drawing cartoons like this:
Or they were disingenuously pretending that Obama had said “empathy for minorities at the expense of white people” (which would only be a bad thing if minorities and white people were already accorded equal standing under the law, of course, but try explaining that to a conservative).
And once Sotomayor was announced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, they began immediately with the racist dog whistles about how a female Hispanic justice would only have empathy for minority women. (The article on the other end of that link is particularly vile in that it pretends that white male justices never, ever let their race or gender influence their judgments, which only makes sense if you imagine that white men are generic people and everyone else is Other, which is the essence of privilege.)
Or they’d quote comments from Obama like this one…
[W]e need somebody who’s got the heart—the empathy—to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old—and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.
…put them in scare italics, and leave them there expecting us to be horrified that Obama might choose someone who regards teenage moms, poor people, and racial or sexual minorities as full humans.
And two years later, now that the infamous empathy debate is out of the news, they’re suddenly very concerned that Obama might not have enough empathy for this job. What the hell, guys? You practically ran as the anti-empathy party last election cycle. Hey, I get that you Republicans don’t often stick to the same talking points over long periods of time – your long-term attention span appears to have only enough capacity to hold “invisible hand” and “taxation is theft” – but at least try to avoid talking points that are a complete reversal of a prior talking point, or at least wait more than two years.
Although the notion that Michelle Bachmann has more empathy than Obama is actually a lot more laughable, but that’s obvious on its face.