When empathy's a good thing

A potential presidential candidate says that for the GOP to make a comeback, it needs to be empathetic

Published June 3, 2009 7:25PM (EDT)

Potential 2012 presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Mark Sanford tend to hog all the spotlight, but under the radar, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gets talked about as one possibility who could actually make it a real race. On Wednesday, speaking at "Making Conservatism Credible Again," a forum sponsored by the Hudson Institute and the Bradley Foundation, Daniels showed why that is.

In contrast to his colleagues in the GOP, who lampooned President Obama for saying he wanted "empathy" in whoever he named to the Supreme Court, Daniels said, "Empathy is going to get a bad name for a little while because it's been transported into the world of the rule of law... [but] it's what distinguishes us from other species." While his colleagues didn't seem to realize the damage that attacking something as positive -- and vague -- as "empathy" could do to their brand, Daniels said that Republicans "must not only assert but assert with credibility that we understand what's going on in the lives of everyday people."

Yes, that seems obvious, but remember, the GOP has a long way to go right now. And that's a start.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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