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Saturday, January 8, 2011


The NY Post ran the following article two days ago (italics mine): 

New Speaker of House weeps as Republicans take control

The most powerful Republican in Washington blubbered uncontrollably yesterday as he relieved outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the huge gavel that comes with being the chamber's top dog.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), who became the new Speaker with tears in his eye, will lead the 112th Congress now that the GOP has control of the House.

Boehner is known for getting misty, weeping, or sometimes flat-out bawling -- especially when he talks about his rags-to-riches life story, children or even war funding.

He first got choked up yesterday as he made his way through a throng of colleagues on the House floor, shaking hands with each well-wisher en route to the rostrum.

Boehner then produced a handkerchief, wiped his eyes and blew his nose -- steadying himself before the ceremonial passing of the gavel.

When even the right-leaning NY Post mocks the new Republican Speaker, you know something is amiss. Boehner's tendency to cry is getting to be -- this has to be said -- a little embarrassing. It has actually gotten to point where it's painful to watch him. You sit there thinking, please don't start crying, please, please don't. And then, sure enough, Boehner gets all choked up and the waterworks start.

The weird thing is, Boehner is one of the last people you would have expected this from. He has a gravelly voice, a hard face, and a gruff, no-nonsense manner. Given that he obviously subscribes to the macho ethic himself, he has to find this tendency of his embarrassing. (Boehner also gives off the vibe that if he did not have this weakness himself, he might not be so understanding of it in others.)

One has to think that crying in public has become Boehner's biggest fear -- and this may actually be why it manifests itself so often. But he seems to deal with it, and just keeps plugging away. It doesn't seem to be hampering his role, at least not so far.

It has become customary for men to admit that they cry and to say that they're not ashamed of it. So, in that vein, let me confess that I cry too. The only thing is, I always am a little embarrassed by it. Which is why I generally don't do it in front of other people. These days the tears come when I think of what could happen to my son in Afghanistan. And I'm certainly not ashamed of that. But I still reserve them for private moments.

I wish Boehner would reserve his crying for those as well. I just don't want the new face of the Republican Party to be such a weeping willow -- I want him to be made of tougher stuff than I am. It's a little like having a leader who is incontinent. It wouldn't directly affect his job performance. And we shouldn't criticize someone for something beyond their control. But at the same time it wouldn't exactly inspire confidence. What happens if Boehner gets in a fight with the Democrats? Will he start crying then?

The Democrats have got to be chortling. Imagine how filled with glee the Republicans would be if every time Obama gave a speech pushing one of his redistributionist programs, mucus would slowly dribble out of his nose. Or if whenever Hillary Clinton gave one of her evasive answers she would let out a rip-roaring fart. So far the Democrats haven't said anything publicly. But they have to be laughing inwardly.

Lots of Republican voices have been heard saying things along the lines of, he's not a crybaby. But of course that only underscores the fact that he is. People would never put that much effort into denying something which isn't true.

At least we know Boehner is not shedding crocodile tears the way Bill Clinton used to. You might fake a tear or two in order to gain some sympathy, or to appear more compassionate; but no one is going to do it to the extent Boehner has just for show.

Still and all, it's probably a healthy development that men are now allowed to show their emotions in public without overt censure.

We've certainly come far since 1972, when Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine had his Presidential campaign derailed because of crying.

Maybe just a little too far.

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