Politics & Policy

The Crying Game

Hillary, Part Two.

The teary, compassionate Hillary and her “human moment” were just in time — and misinterpreted by the media:

(1) She didn’t actually break down and “cry,” but better yet, only teared up — a drop or two showing a human side, with glimpses of empathetic frailty, but not rivers of abject weakness and loss of composure.

(2) Contrary to popular wisdom, this was not an Ed Muskie New Hampshire moment. When a tall, lanky man breaks down in tears that’s one thing; it’s quite another to see a teary-eyed confessional woman. There is a double-standard, but it’s not the one we’re told: Men always seem to look weak when they tear up; women can look, well, empathetic and sensitive. In this regard, note when she “opened her heart” there was an enhancing soft light around her, and her make-up was understated and pastelish — an aura effect.

(3) The slur against her was that she was an iron-lady automaton, without emotion; so she needed that tearful introspection; it was not like a quirky, psycho-dramatic Pat Schroeder crying 20 years ago, and thereby confirming what we suspected — that as a fragile personality, she was subject to wild mood swings and undue passions. Hillary’s quarter tear wasn’t the weepy Cowardly Lion serially breaking down, but an appreciated sad drop or two coming from the heartless Tin Man.

(4) No comment on the authenticity of her “human moment,” since the “I’m all choked up” is a one-time bromide. It did the trick — and can’t be repeated.

Again, never underestimate the Clintonian team. (In this regard the astute Dick Morris’s apparently obsessive worries are hardly obsessive, but very real.)

Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a complete focus-group/poll-driven/handler make-over. And to the degree she sticks to it (a big if), she will do fine. As we heard tonight, Hillary has now “found her voice”; she suddenly speaks more slowly, there are more bite-the-lip-like pauses, and she has been reminded not to go into frenetic panic mode or hit that screech-owl high note as much. She will seek out interviews, welcome questions, and be empathetic, accessible, and sensitive to the public.

Her New Hampshire victory speech was almost anti-Hillary (at least until the last two seconds of the old Hillary shrill-shouting): slow, deliberate, empathetic, a lot of personal voice — and Bill finally off the stage.

Note that she thanked her mother and almost everyone else imaginable (even Biden, Dodd, etc.), but not Bill! — who, of course, in albatross fashion, blew up again on his stump, and ranted on about himself and how he has suffered so for the rest of us.

A final note: The campaign talking heads and opinion makers this season have been lousy, about the worst in memory — especially the “she’s won, she’s lost, she’s won…” feeding frenzy, and then writing the silly “end of the Clinton era” essays — all based on a few thousand Iowans, some bad polls in New Hampshire, and catch-up to what some other wrong pundit wrote an hour earlier. And remember, these are “experts” who pontificated each week on the real Iraq war.

They remind one of the ridiculous gnashing tropical carp, splashing about in Saddam’s old Baghdad pond.

– Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

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