In a recent NY Times Op-Ed titled “The Crying Game”,
Gail Collins claims a double standard regarding Speaker of the House-elect John Boehner’s propensity to open up the waterworks and what would happen if outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi did the same:
We will stop here briefly to contemplate what would happen if she, or any female lawmaker, broke into loud, nose-running sobs while discussing Iraq troop funding or giving a TV interview.
If the rest of the piece is any indication, I guess some people
would do the exact same thing Collins does to Boehner, as examined below. However, in all honesty, most people would do nothing because most people simply don't care.
Collins's victory dance here is understandable considering that she is the author of When Everything Changed
, a book about how women have come a long way in the last half century ... after all, a scant 50 years ago most women in America would never have dreamed of being so openly condescending toward an elected official. You've come a long way, baby!
Collins then compares Hillary Clinton’s moment of emotion on the campaign trail in 2008 with Boehner’s crying after the midterm election:
Hillary Clinton cries in New Hampshire — is an excellent example of the difference between what men and women can get away with, tear-wise...
With her back to the wall and the presidency on the line, Clinton approached the edge of a sniffle and we are still talking about it. Boehner is driven to great, noisy sobs when he contemplates the fact that as a youth, he mopped the floor at his father’s tavern.
I expected that take to end with “… and nobody is talking about it” … except she is; we are. I also suspect we will be talking about it in the future if this is the kind of inanity accepted as the status quo in public discourse these days. Collins covers the impending focus on Boehner also: since no righties loved Pelosi, it's now in vogue to hate the Speaker of the House. Therefore, get ready, Republicans, because we're going mock this crybaby and drag him through broken glass.
The rest of the piece deals with how Boehner is in bed with lobbyists, wants to overturn Obama Care, voted against funds to help ill Ground Zero workers ... as if the decisions our elected officials must make in the strategic clusterfark that is Washington denies John Boehner the politician the right to be John Boehner the man, for whom any emotional expression is, apparently, illegitimate.
Considering the above positions Boehner has held as a legislator (just forget all the legitimate, or even expedient, reasons behind his actions, just for fun in order to attack the "Sobbing Speaker"), Collins adds, Boehner cannot be a caring person … therefore:
… when he starts weeping when his wife says she’s “real proud” of him, it’s not a sign of softness.
If I were a betting man (scratch that; I am a betting man), I’d say that Collins is implying that John Boehner is deranged.
In sum: if Boehner's emotional expressions are legitimate,
then his emotional sensitivity would also guide his policy positions, otherwise, it's all a big farce.
I’m not exactly sure if the emotional approach is the way we want our elected officials operating. Call me insane, but the people we elect to office have a solemn duty to make tough decisions based on reasoning that keeps the best possible outcome in mind. I know we teach our children to let their emotions dictate their actions by hitting people when mad, kicking their siblings if they feel like it, vandalizing cars in fits of rage when wronged etc., but I don't know if it makes for good governance.
Nancy Pelosi has not cried publicly to the same degree John Boehner has, so we don't really know what the reaction would be. Hillary's "crying" was largely perceived as bogus, a political ploy, so it is automatically more intriguing in our political context than Boehner's episodes. Boehner's truly genuine reactions are more appropriate for Oprah Winfrey, or ... well ... the New York Times
opinion pages, I suppose.
Collins establishes a framework that seems familiar: Democrats/females must not cry, or they are perceived as weak; Republicans/men can cry, and they are considered attractive and complex. Isn't this close to the model foisted upon America by feminists and the Sesame Street hustlers who have dominated the American educational system for the last several decades? Much of America has been begging men to cry for decades, and when one does, on national television, he's excoriated for it ... all for cheap political points?
Another reason why people may be more intrigued by Hillary Clinton "crying" is because she fell back on the "feminine" trick of crying to help herself. For all the years the feminist movement has been promoting that women could and should do everything men do and that inequality between the sexes is illegitimate, for Clinton to fall back on such tactics is not just disingenuous on a political level, but also bogus regarding feminism.
Hillary's mistake was thinking that the trick could work even though millions of people would be reviewing her performance on tape over and over again; nope, crying to get your way or squirm out of something is always best utilized when dealing one on one, and in a spontaneous way, unless the scheme has a proven track record of working with a particular person. Then, of course, you can plan a staged cry to great effect. Some might argue that women were forced to create such strategies in an inequitable world, but that's another discussion entirely. If the "damsel in distress" or the "emotional female" was created by misogynistic males, then a self-proclaimed feminist using one of those stereotypes to get her way is quite laughable.
Hillary made a mistake. Was she unpracticed in this time-tested strategy of manipulation due to her militant adherence to feminist dogma? What's wrong with cherry-picking both the art of female manipulation from traditional society and the strong spirit of the independent woman established by the feminist movement? That would seem to be the savvy play.
The monistic approach just can't work in American politics; Hillary should have known that from her husband's move to the middle during his presidency. That was easy for Bill Clinton because he was maneuvering for political gain all along. Moving freely in the political spectrum is a piece of cake when a person really doesn't stand for anything.
Hillary can't play the part for the exact same reason Madonna could never break through as an actor... neither of them are believable.
After years and years of hearing that "women aren't weak" and "men should cry", Pelosi crying like Boehner might garner two general responses:
a. the feminists were wrong; women are indeed too emotional
b. She's a schemer
What an interesting little corner the feminist movement has painted itself into.
However, there is a way out. The man who is second in line for the presidency come January 2011 regularly bawls in public. Embrace this man, for he is your ideal. Hoist your flag above him.
You've won, Ms. Collins ... try to be gracious, will ya?