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January 8, 2008

Crying About Clinton

If, in another life, I somehow became president (not something I otherwise would be much interested in), what I would do on day one is mandate that Emotional Literacy be added to the health curriculum in all public schools.

In part, I think the current regard for “bulletproof strength” and (supposedly) “invulnerable will” has been juiced to the standard it has by this Administration as a political defense to protect the absolutely profound character weakness and poverty of feeling of one George W. Bush.

As well, however, America is just profoundly uncomfortable and almost functionally illiterate when it comes to affect in its many degrees and manifestations.  And there are many manifestations.  If you watch this clip without the sound, and then imagine it is anybody but HC, consider the fact that a person might express him or herself just like Hillary did yesterday and be feeling (not inordinately, I should emphasize) touched, impassioned, reminiscent, proud, mobilized, tender, longing, nostalgic, emphatic, stirred, connected, etc., etc.

I’m not even going to address the gender aspect of this — even though I thoroughly agree with so many of my readers that a clear double-standard is being applied here.  (I will also say that Edwards, more than anybody else, should appreciate the difference between a person being emotional and becoming emotional  — just given the level of compassion and sensitivity he constantly evokes toward his fellow man.)

… And if being versus becoming emotional sounds like the same thing (back to Emotional Literacy 101), it’s not.  Because, in the course of experiencing a complex set of emotions simultaneously, if you really attend to it, you’ll notice that people — and I mean, most people — actually become emotional, in some transitory way, fairly often.

Two more quick things, also not profound, but worth reiterating.  Clinton has been slammed hard for being robotic.  I, for one, am pleased to see her being more expressive self since the last debate.  (That was the point of my previous Hillary post.)  Unless it’s mostly the result of the stress, it is possible this week represents something of a breakthrough for her in terms of being more herself as a politician.  That doesn’t mean I like her any better ideologically, but it does make me much more interested and receptive to her personally.

Last point.  These candidates are definitely on their last legs and everything is on the line now — at least for Clinton and Edwards.  If they were weren’t showing some feeling right now, now that would be cause for worry.

  • Chris

    She was faking.

  • chrisss

    Go to hell, Chris

  • mcc

    it is possible this week represents something of a breakthrough for her in terms of being more herself as a politician
    So I could of course be wrong, but I very much think that the Clinton “outbursts” this week were very much calculated and intentional. Hillary Clinton is a person with a lot of self control, who has had a lot of opportunity to rehearse that self control. This campaign is not the most difficult thing she has ever done. Meanwhile we’ve had Clinton multiple times over the last couple of weeks complaining that nobody “knows” her, that everyone’s aware of her but no one has any familiarity with her as a person. Assuming they weren’t entirely a media fabrication (her “voice cracked”? could it be she was just hoarse?) I think these shows of emotion were at least in some vague way an intentional attempt to start to address that “nobody knows me” complaint.
    No, I don’t think this means she was “faking” it. What I think is that Clinton has been making a specific choice for whatever reason to be reserved in public for many years, and I think at some point over the last few days she made a specific choice that she needed to be more emotionally open and direct in future. If she keeps up with this, then it probably will make sense to as BAG does describe it as a “breakthrough” for her.
    In the short term, though, it seems pretty clear that if I’m right about this, the media is not taking these attempts to open up the way Clinton would have wanted them taken. And whether I’m right or not, this all seems to be a pretty good sign that if you’re going to make changes to a crafted-for-years public persona, the time to do so is NOT in the final hours of a long campaign when every single camera in the world is pointed at you, especially not after suffering some kind of significant loss.
    What I keep thinking of here is a newspaper article from the weekend before the elections last year, which I think might have been about a hunting trip or something and started something like “John Kerry is doing something unusual for the final days of a presidential campaign: introducing himself”. That such a sentence could even be printed maybe should have been an indication the election was already lost.

  • mcc

    I wrote:
    What I keep thinking of here is a newspaper article from the weekend before the elections last year
    Durrrr, I mean 2004.

  • Cactus

    I believe there is a double standard here. When a woman cries, the predictable response (by MSM) is ‘well isn’t that just like a woman, too emotional.’ When a man cries, the predictable response if he’s a democrat is, he is being emotional i.e., weak, like a woman. My suspicion is that it embarrasses the punditry and they don’t know how to handle it in public.
    The thing that bothered me about Hillary’s tears, was that she quickly recovered herself and immediately went on to slam her rivals. I would have had much more sympathy for her if instead she had continued calmly that we have to turn this country around and it will take all of us to do it…..or words to that effect. IOW, her first instinct was to take out her claws, not to rally the voters/public around her and her policies.

  • cbb

    So now we can add to the accusation that they were calculated crocodile tears that she shouldn’t have recovered so quickly and gone on the offense.
    For God’s sake, I need an instructional text on the appropriate way to get emotional.

  • Johanna

    I don’t think I have seen a moment in this campaign that disgusted me as much as her tearing up. She has a verbal tic that invariably occurs when she is at her most false. It is the phrase “you know.” She was doing that during this moment “you know, I just don’t want to see the country go backward” sniffle sniffle. Some of the falsest people I have met have those tics, little phrases always used when passing off stuff they know is crap. If you read a transcript of her interview with Katie Couric, it is studded with “You knows” except in the parts that seem the most natural.

  • lytom

    I am sooo impressed by the writing here against Hillary Clinton…
    It seems to me, US has such a dangerous clown and media blitz seems to continue and is succeeding in putting forth the unimportant bits about the candidates. Why is there not a criticism about the major ideas that the candidates have that are at fault?
    The same goes for the starry eyed public which is there to hold identical hand held signs and no thought of their own, except what they are fed by the PR heads of the candidates! There is a lack of presence of mind and lack of understanding what the country faces. Economic stagnation, military control and waste of resources, unlawful interventions in other countries, insufficent medical security, loss of freedoms and assault on constitution, pollution and destruction of the planet, and so on…
    The Rome is burning, yet the applause goes on.

  • Johanna

    That’s right, Lytom, keep thinking about the issues and don’t try to assess the honesty, reliability or character of the candidates. Just believe if they say they will give priority to climate change, then they will. If they say they will catch Osama, they will. If they have a “plan” to end economic stagnation, you can trust it, etc.

  • lytom

    I do not believe any of them! Johanna…
    I don’t think there is a test for politicians to tell if they are honest, and can be believed. That would be contrary to what politicians are… Rather I distrust them, all of them.

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