Let out the tears. Crying is in

January 16, 2008|By KEVIN COWHERD

Crying is hot in politics now, and you're going to see a lot more of it on the campaign trail from now on.

If the pop-psych theories are right and crying helped Hillary Rodham Clinton win the New Hampshire primary, you can bet the other candidates -- both Democrats and Republicans -- will start bawling at the drop of a hat, too.

So what if the other candidates are guys?

If I'm Barack Obama, I'm speed-dialing Oprah right now and begging to get back on her show so I can break down and cry.

(If Barack could get Oprah to cry with him -- or even just dab her eyes with a Kleenex -- man, that would be a major coup.)

John Edwards looks like a natural for a crying jag -- all the millionaire tort attorney would have to do is think of how much less money he'll make if he actually wins the White House.

And the Republicans, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and the rest, you know those guys are just itching to get all weepy, now that they see what it's done for Clinton.

The fact is, some of the best criers in history have been guys.

Lou Gehrig cried at his Yankee Stadium farewell -- who wouldn't under those circumstances? Mob boss Don Corleone cried in The Godfather after Michael whacked Sollozzo and the cop.

Tiger Woods cried like a baby after two of his Masters wins. And disgraced televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker practically made blubbering an art form the way they went at it.

Oh, sure, I know that crying used to be seen as a liability in politics.

I know that nearly 36 years ago, Ed Muskie's presidential campaign tanked after he cried while defending his wife's reputation at a news conference.

But times have changed. Crying is in now for politicians.

Now it's cool to show your emotions. It's hip, it's a vote-getter.

By the way, can we clear something up right now?

What Clinton did in that New Hampshire coffee shop when her eyes welled with tears -- that's not really crying.

Crying is, you know, boohooing, really going at it.

It's shoulders shaking, head bobbing, tears gushing down your cheeks, nose getting all drippy, the whole nine yards.

Welling up is a close cousin of crying, but it's not the real thing.

It's like Crying Lite.

But welling up was certainly a good move for Clinton, if you believe the pundits.

So now that she has that down, she should think about really opening those tear ducts and letting the voters see who she is.

And if she does, you can bet the other candidates are not going to let Clinton out-cry them before the November elections.

Here's a guy the other candidates can take lessons from, a good up-and-coming male crier: Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

Did you see him in the post-game interview after the Cowboys lost to the Giants in the NFL playoffs? (If not, go to YouTube. It's an all-star weeper performance.)

A reporter asked him something about Dallas quarterback Tony Romo's skipping to Mexico on a quickie vacation during the week before the big game with his famous girlfriend, Jessica Simpson. And Owens lost it defending his teammate.

He had on these big rap-star shades, so at first you couldn't really tell that he was crying.

But then his voice broke and you could see a tear leaking down below the shades, and you knew this big, tough football star was really sobbing.

Over Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson, no less! Which made me wonder: How's he going to react if his dog dies?

On the other hand, Bill Clinton never got the hang of crying, at least not enough to make it look genuine.

Oh, he had the whole biting-the-lower-lip thing down. And the mournful shake of the head.

And he could brush a tear from the corner of his eye like nobody's business.

But the other eye always looked like it was scanning the room for the TV cameras, which made the whole thing look like he was faking emotion.

So there's a lesson for everyone running for president.

If you're going to cry, go all the way. Make it real. Cry from the heart.

Just think of all the backsides you've had to kiss, and the tears will flow.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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