I guess you could call this an end to the “I feel your pain” kind of presidency, and maybe that’s not a bad thing; we certainly need imaginative policy more than we need tears and hugs from a commander in chief. But the absence of any obvious empathy — even when empathetic words are serviceably written and reliably fed into a teleprompter — would seem to hint at a shallow reservoir of moral conviction.
Trump’s human disconnect runs deeper than just a lack of visible compassion. When I met him in the late ’90s, he refused to shake anyone’s hand, for fear of becoming contaminated. (I guess Purell solved that problem.) The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has pointed out that Trump seems somehow without close friends.
He is, as my Yahoo colleague Jerry Adler noted, the first president since James Polk without a pet. He is probably the least spiritual president in any of our lifetimes.