Friday, January 7, 2011

The Orange Man Cryeth. Is This a Problem?

Will this water down his effectiveness?

We all saw it on Boehner’s 60 Minutes interview. We all saw it as Boehner took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi. Tears.

More significant than the tears, however, is the noise made by the press and pundits about it. Serious comments such as “Is he stable enough to do his job, and heaven forbid, if he became president, how would it look to have a crybaby running the country?” And humorous comments like “Well, that’s how we close the border. We put John Boehner in the middle of the Rio Grande and have him tell stories until the water level rises so high no one can get across!” (I’m waiting for someone to suggest that with global warming and Boehner crying, the water level will rise so only the highest mountains will remain above sea level.) I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live for awhile, but this issue has got to be in their sights.

There have also been non-truths told about Boehner’s tears. Many pundits have suggested he only cries about himself. My recollection is that he cries for soldiers, our children’s futures, and pretty much anything he is emotional about. He is proud of who he is, what he has accomplished, and wants future generations to receive the America he experienced.

Here’s my perspective. Real issue? No. Cosmetic issue? Maybe.

First understand this - as men get older, they get more emotional/sensitive. I can speak from experience here, as I find myself sobbing up for things that would not have elicited anything more than a brief comment years ago. It’s hard to watch a chic flick without grabbing the kleenex a few times, and puffy eyes are much more common than they used to be. But I also laugh more. Increased emotions of all sorts are part of what pushed me to write this blog.

The increasing connection with my feminine side in no way means I can’t stay the course when concentrated attention is required for some difficult or contentious task. When handling a business discussion, the eyes are dry. Cursing maybe, crying no. Boehner’s tears are like mine- they come to the surface in moments of reflection. And no one in his family or who is affiliated with him politically has ever indicated he is weak in any regard.

I was listening to a discussion of this on the Ronn Owens talk show (KGO, San Francisco). One caller told of her grandfather who cried more frequently as he aged when telling reminiscent stories, but was still one of the strongest and most capable men she knew. Owens understood this to some degree, but not the overall point about aging men getting emotional upon reflection. Probably because it hasn’t happened to him yet.

I’m no psychologist, but I suspect women in politics and other positions of power learn to control tears because they know as women they must appear strong, and learn to say caring words without weakness-indicating tears. Men are not used to it. Their heightened emotions catch them by surprise. Does that make sense? I don’t know.

But I do know that men who have been strong all their lives are not all of a sudden weak because they are now more emotional.

Now, the cosmetic part. As much as I like John Boehner (and I like him a lot) I admit I am troubled by the crying, or at least the protrayal of it on television and other video clips. If we could rely on the press and others to be more judicial in their coverage of things political, he would not be shown crying. But as we know, they will be just the opposite. When covering an important event or speech, they will zero in on the crying portion and forget to cover the intended story. (Can you see Katie Couric discussing the meat of an issue if she can show Boehner crying instead?)

This could be a problem with respect to foreign policy. If something happened to Obama and Biden, thus sticking Boehner with the presidency, thinking leaders of other nations would react to what he says and his actions, not his tears. But not all foreign leaders are thinking people, and we especially don’t need to imply weakness to those who are not.

Domestically, however, the tears should be a positive. After all, the problem Republicans have always had is getting some of our citizenry to understand fiscal conservatism (or tough love, whateve you want to call it) is in the public’s interest because Republicans appear to not care about people. Boehner shows he is sensitive and cares when he cries.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the generally liberal press will take an open-minded approach to their coverage of the issue. The press and the Dems like to portray Republicans as heartless people, not realists. Since it is harder to sell that when a guy is awash in tears, the press is taking a different approach. Ironic, but now the press is questioning whether Boehner can be tough enough.

I’m not sure how this will play out. Boehner may learn to control his tears, or the press may leave him alone. I’m also not sure whether the tears bother me or not. For the position of Speaker it’s a positive. For a President and foreign policy, maybe not.

As always, your opinions and thoughts on this are welcome.

Mercer Tyson

1 comment:

  1. Emotional tears, as an isolated event, are fine with me, at any age, but are not the issue worth discussing. Focus on the context. What brought on the watery reaction, exactly? Go back and look at the context for each of the most recent tearfests. What does the teary reactions to those specifics say about the man, his agendas, his politics, and other pertinent considerations? Then we'll talk...