Tears on the trail

Tears. What’s with the tears? Or our fascination with them?


Edmund Muskie, prevailing wisdom goes, lost his chance to be crier-in-chief when he called Manchester Union Leader publisher William Loeb “a gutless coward” during the 1972 campaign. Oh, and he cried. End of story. End of candidacy.


When former Rep. Pat Schroeder announced in 1987 that she would not run for president, she threw in a pretty good cry, pretty much guaranteeing that any future possibility of her running for president — ever –wouldn’t be hers.

“There are different things we cry over,” Republican strategist Edward Mahe said at the time. “A political decision should not be one of those things one breaks down and cries about.”

“I got a devastating e-mail about it from a woman writer just a couple of days ago,” Schroeder told the London Times the other day. “It’s like I ruined their lives, 20 years ago, with three seconds of catching my breath.”

clinton_tears.jpgWhich brings us to New Hampshire and Hillary Clinton, where the now-leading candidate for the Democratic nomination appeared to tear up when talking about her campaign on Monday in Portsmouth (See video).

And, watching the morning talk shows today, one sees nearly all of the anchors asking her if her tears are the reason she won the primary on Tuesday.

“Something happened in the last 48 hours that made people change their minds (about Clinton),” said CBS’ chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer, speculating that the incident in Portsmouth (in which, for the record, she didn’t break down and blubber) had more than a little something to do with it. For some reason, though, he didn’t mention the possibility that all the polls were wrong.

Writing today in Newsweek on Mrs. Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, Jonathan Alter was more declarative on the subject.

Whatever actually happened, the 2008 New Hampshire primary will be remembered for Hillary Clinton choking up when describing her everyday struggles. (The original question was about how she got through every morning when things were so tough).

Even many of her harshest critics believed Hillary’s emotions were authentic, which was a major advantage for her in closing the “likeability gap” and erasing her image as too controlled and lacking in spontaneity.

Tears as political strength? Now that’s change!

  • Hussein Ahmed

    I think Hillary is the “Greatest pretender” of the year! she always seems to say what people want to hear – that tearful talk was fake and must have won the heart of the naive, good hearted and always-trusting Americans…Hope we don’t get 4 years of another Clinton. I root for Ron Paul…YEAH!!! The torch shall ever brun brighter…Peace & love to all!

  • mikeA

    Well she can only play that card once. I wonder what else she has up her sleeve.