Opinion: Working Around Trump on Issues That Matter

The kiss-and-make-up press conference with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the most awkward dates in the history of, well, dates, as my Roll Call colleague Walter Shapiro pointed out. They need each other, sure, but will tax cuts be the glue to hold intermittent and shaky truces together for any length of time?

The Case for Empathy—Open Hearts May Open Minds

In the past, Rob Portman has supported the federal Defense of Marriage Act, favored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and backed legislation prohibiting gay couples in Washington, D.C., from adopting. Now, the conservative Republican senator from Ohio has changed his mind. “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote in the Columbus Dispatch. Discovering his son Will is gay “led me to think through my position in a much deeper way,” he said.

I would never question the sincerity of Portman’s change of heart or the thoughtfulness that made him reverse his personal and political opinions. But I would ask why it took the concerns of someone in his immediate family to move him.

Empathy for others is not, it seems, a valued quality, especially that which might cross differences in gender or race, economic status or geography—or sexual identity. Portman’s public change of heart makes me wonder where those seeking public office draw the line – at the border of their districts, their blocks, their front doors?

And the inability to appreciate the life experience of others unfortunately seeps into other parts of our culture,