Empathy

At a children’s charity fund-raiser at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan last night, Barack Obama explained to his audience that the remarks he was delivering were “not a policy speech.”

The theme was empathy, which, as a potential campaign motif, could end of providing him with one of his clearest contrasts with Hillary Clinton in a primary match-up.

“I think we’re going to have to talk about the empathy deficit, the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through someone else’s eyes,” Obama told the crowd of mostly white, mostly well-to-do New Yorkers.

He went on to say, “It’s time for a sense of empathy to infuse our politics in America.”

It’s kind of counterintuitive — if politically necessary for both Clinton and Obama — that the normal gender roles are being reversed: he’s the Great Empathizer; she’s the Tough Workaholic.

Obama didn’t seem to be entirely on his game, at least by the lofty performance standards he’s already set himself. But you can listen to his remarks here and judge for yourself.

– Azi Paybarah