Yesterday Samuel Nock asked me (in the comments section after The vagueness of the Left) what I made of Obama's tears at his news conference announcing his new gun control measures: were they genuine or some cynical ploy?
I answered by saying, basically, that I wasn't sure.
But I've thought about it a little more since, and have come to the conclusion that Obama's tears were neither, and both.
Let me explain. I don't think Obama was crying with spontaneous sadness about the students who died in Roseburg, Oregon, or in Newtown, Connecticut, or at Virginia Tech, or at Columbine (yes, he reached that far back). He has mentioned these mass killings before without breaking down; and if he hadn't cried about them right after they happened, why, after the passage of time, would they affect him this way now? (Shedding tears about, say, the Nepalese earthquake victims might make sense right after the event; but if you didn't know any of the victims personally, would it make sense to start crying about them years later?)
Obama has tried hard not to let any of these mass killings/crises go to waste in recent years. If it's a white killing blacks, as with Dylan Roof in Charleston, he uses the killings as an example of what a horribly racist society we live in. If it's a black killing whites, as in Roseburg, Oregon, he uses it as an example of the destruction caused by those horrible Republicans who won't pass stricter gun control laws. But the point is, Obama has never cried in the past while making such political hay.
At the same time, I also don't think his tears were some cynical ploy, a la Bill Clinton's wiping away of imaginary crocodile tears.
No Drama Obama has never been one to turn on the waterworks in order to appear "caring." And he has certainly never shed any public tears over the more than 300 children he himself has killed -- as "collateral damage" -- through his drone attacks. (That number, by the way, is far more than the combined total of all the mass killings he referenced in his speech on gun control.)
Even when at the funeral of someone you'd think he might actually grieve for -- Nelson Mandela -- Obama spent his time in the gallery taking smiling selfies with the Danish Prime Minister:
I suggested yesterday that Obama was probably exhausted, or disheartened about some private, personal matter, and the tears just happened to emerge at this opportune moment, and somehow got conflated with sadness for the dead children.
Yesterday afternoon, the picture became a little clearer. News came out that the House of Representatives passed, for the first time, a bill which would repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Obama is certain to veto the bill, but nonetheless, the fact that the bill has now passed both the House and Senate is of huge symbolic significance, and highlights the fact that many consider Obamacare a complete failure.
Obamacare is, as has been pointed out by many others, the signature achievement of Obama's Presidency. It's the bill he spent the most political capital to get passed, the one most closely associated with him. Obama has been mostly in recusal mode when it comes to foreign policy, and race relations have, not by coincidence, only deteriorated on his watch. But he's always had Obamacare as his legacy-to-be.
Obama would obviously have been well aware that Congress was about to vote to repeal his signature bill, and he was undoubtedly feeling put upon and depressed about that. Maybe he'd even lost sleep over it, and was exhausted. He undoubtedly felt as if he was being picked on by that mean, bullying Congress.
It was with that emotional backdrop that Obama delivered his speech about gun control. He was feeling weary and dispirited to begin with, so the tears were closer to the surface. When they actually came, the President, of course, ascribed them to his feelings for all those dead children. But if you've witnessed Obama's previous emotional nonreactions to dead children, and are familiar with his narcissism, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that his tears were in fact more closely connected to the impending vote to repeal Obamacare.
Tears are a funny thing. Sometimes they come at the most inopportune moments, precisely because they're not supposed to. I always thought this was the case with John Boehner, whose frequent crying must have been extremely embarrassing for him. If crying in public is your biggest fear, then you are much more likely to do it.
Obama's tears came at an opportune moment. The media, of course, put the best possible spin on them: that they were evidence of how much Obama cared about the children. But if you believe that, you also have to believe that John Boehner was nicer, more caring, and more kindhearted than your average politician. The media certainly never put that spin on Boehner, and I don't believe he was, either.
But I also don't believe it about Obama, who has never cried before in public about any of those dead children, not right after they died, and not even when meeting with their parents in the immediate aftermath.
His tears on Monday were more closely connected to Obamacare's brush with death. That, after all, has his name on it.