You know the same cynical crew that spilled buckets of ink deconstructing Clinton's "cackle" will have a field day debating whether the display of emotion was genuine or yet another calculating effort to con voters into entertaining the possibility that she is a human being with an actual beating heart. I can see the Maureen Dowd column now, and I bet a year's supply of kibble that NBC's Andrea Mitchell will be on the news tonight with some breathless behind-the-curtain report on how the tears were a desperate, orchestrated response to polling data showing that 4 out of 5 New Hampshire voters believe the former First Lady is a replicant. In her on-the-ground reporting from Iowa the other night, Mitchell kept pointing out that the party in Clinton's campaign headquarters the night of her dismal showing in the caucuses was staged. Andrea passed along this "news" as though every other loss in American political history had been followed by a spontaneous gathering of ridiculously happy people that just happened to be captured by television cameras, so we look forward to her in-depth analysis of Clinton's tears.
Wa Po's Anne E. Kornblut, not known for her sympathetic coverage of the junior senator from New York, witnessed the display of emotion and seems to have found it genuine. Her blog post on the moment is here. Newsweek's Karen Breslau was there, too, and thought she caught a glimpse of the Clinton she got to know during her years of covering her as First Lady: "an engaging, warm and witty woman, a first-class road-trip companion who seemed to spring to life as soon as her plane left U.S. airspace." More importantly, an undecided voter who was on the scene was also moved by the moment. Breslau's report, which is here, concludes:
"It got me," said Jane Harrington, a voter from Newington who came to the session trying to decide between Clinton and Obama, whom she had seen a day before—and really liked. "I wanted to see who the real Hillary was. That was real." The question now is how many others will feel the way Harrington did—and whether the emotional moment came too late.The consensus in Roxie's World is clear: Tough girls don't intentionally cry in public, so when they do it comes straight from the heart. We feel for you, Hill, and with you. Hang in there. The nation you seek to lead is mostly a bunch of cry babies anyway. Sew up that vote, and you'll win in a walk.
Update: Great op-ed in Tuesday's NYT by Gloria Steinem on gender as a force in American life and the current election and on why gender barriers are taken less seriously than racial barriers. It speaks to the debate that broke out in comments here on the "No Country for Bold Women" post. Go read it, children, and we'll resume that conversation while the vampire killers are sharpening up their stakes after Clinton loses in New Hampshire. Love you. Mean it.
Update #2: The Good Old Girls continue to weigh in on this subject. Katha Pollitt offers a fiery denunciation of John Edwards's smarmy, sexist suggestion that the incident suggested Clinton might not be "tough" enough to be president. Hmmm. Let's see. Just how "tough" is the guy who sent his wife out to attack the woman candidate in the race and hid behind her support for same-sex marriage as a way to protect himself from criticism for his poll-tested opposition to it? The glorious Pollitt talks to Pat Schroeder, who knows a thing or two about the political risks for women of public displays of emotion, about the incident and responses to it. "I'm so sick about the way Hillary is treated I can hardly talk about it," the former congresswoman and presidential candidate tells Pollitt. Amen, Pat!
Update #3: As predicted here in Roxie's World, noted cat-fighter and Clinton-hater Maureen Dowd holds forth on Hillary's nefarious plan to "cry her way back to the White House." Yep, that's right. Thanks, Mo Do, for continuing to meet the exceedingly low expectations we have for you. You truly had to scale the heights of Dowdian genius to inject both Richard Nixon and the misogynistic stereotype of Clinton as "the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite" into your commentary, but you managed to do it. All of us visually impaired smart girls appreciate your tireless work on our behalf.