The Word Of The Day Is Empathy

Romero evaluates Biden's performance at the roundtable on Economic Security for American Families:

I've seen Obama participate in several of these stagey roundtables over the past 12 months, and he's nowhere near as convincing as his new partner was today.

Restrained by his cooler, academic character, Obama tends to nod approvingly while his guests relate their stories, then poses a probing follow-up or pivots to a relevant policy point; his first instinct is never to establish an emotional connection by sharing a similar experience of his own. Given that Biden was wrong about this election--it is about health care, and taxes, and gas prices--his new role as Obama's economic empathizer may turn out to be more important than his original roles as attack dog and foreign-policy adult. Of course, it remains to be seen how convincingly Biden can feel voters' pain in a less choreographed setting; empathizing always borders on pandering, especially in the hands of a politician as bombastic and mercurial as Biden. His predilection for prefacing every sentence with phrases meant to convey candor--today's list: "I'm serious"; "I'm not joking"; "Literally"; "This is not hyperbole"; "I mean this sincerely"--tends to undercut, rather than underscore, his sincerity. But today, in his first at-bat, Biden did Bubba proud--even if he was swinging at softballs.