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.