Rob Portman, Nancy Reagan and the Empathy Deficit

Before the applause for Senator Portman grows too enthusiastic, let’s also note that his embrace of marriage equality reveals a fundamental failure of empathy in the first place.


Empathy, noun: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another


When Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his resignation in the spring of 2009, President Obama told a press conference that he would look for nominees who had the capacity for empathy. As he told the press corps: “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”


Steven Conn