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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feel No Pain

Bijou would come home from a frustrating day at work
and want to talk about it
... and talk about it.
I would come home from a frustrating day at work
and want to forget it.

So she talked

... and I listened.
Then I made a terrible mistake.
I suggested solutions for her problems.
She became enraged.
"Don't solve my problem.
Just listen to me and empathize."

I protested.

I am a lawyer,
trained to hear my clients' problems
and to solve them.
Imagine if I told my client that I empathized,
and then left the jail.

Eventually I learned to speak the language,

to sense the warning signs
that marked the beginning of the burst of emotion
that demanded attention.

Bill Clinton is credited

with mastering personal politics.
He made everyone,
especially female voters
feel as if he understood
and empathized
with their problems.
In the jargon of the time,
he felt their pain.

Barack Obama has a hard time with Clintonspeak.

His approach is more lawyerly,
less emotive.
In a crisis he will first seek facts,
then seek solutions.

The press and shallow observers slam him

for failing to show emotion
(i.e., anger) at enemies of the state
-- like BP and GM.
The media wants him to be more like an action star
swearing revenge.

Would they prefer the G.W. Bush tactic

of manipulating the overwrought emotions
of the nation following 9/11
to lead us into disastrous wars?

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