On election night 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president, he stood before the American people and openly wept before the cameras. Later, when interviewed on 60 Minutes, he again cried when talking about his personal story.
Republican condemnation was brutal. "How can we expect President Obama to stand up before Russia, if he will weep at the slightest provocation?" was the immediate reaction. As was, "We need a president who will stand tough to fight terrorists, because they aren't shedding tears but planning America's destruction."
When Barack Obama then started crying at the...
Wait, I'm sorry. That wasn't Barack Obama, it was John Boehner. My mistake. I mixed up the two election nights.
I want to be clear. I don't have any problem with John Boehner crying, let alone crying repeatedly. Crying to the point of being a serial weeper. If that's the emotion how he best expresses himself, so be it.
It's just the galling hypocrisy of it all that is so pathetic.
I mean, being honest a moment -- and surely we all want to be honest -- let's just imagine that it had been Barack Obama who wept to cameras on election night, and wept when he appeared on 60 Minutes. And cried every time he talked on camera about himself and his challenging upbringing. Just imagine.
Barack Obama would have been scathingly vilified. Republicans would have ripped him for putting America at risk by being unable to control his own emotions. Saying how a leader has to stand tall, be strong, stay tough when facing our enemies. They'd have called him unstable.
Just imagine. And be honest.
Actually, you don't have to even imagine. Merely remember. When Hilary Clinton choked back a few tears during the 2008 New Hampshire primary, Fox analyst Dick Morris put on his fake psychologist cap and blasted it as an emotional collapse: "That is a breakdown," he pontificated, adding, "And I believe that there could well come a time when there is such a serious threat to the United States that she breaks down like that."
(Morris, of course, excused Mitt Romney being tearful on Meet the Press, however: "I'm not sure he cried in sympathy for himself." For the record, John Boehner's waterworks exclusively come in sympathy for himself.)
When Rush Limbaugh played an audio tape of Ms. Clinton's comments, he interrupted throughout with "Whah!" "Whah! Whaaaaah!" "Whaaaaah!" "Whaaaaaaaaah." "Whaaaaah! Whaaaaaaaaah..."
All you have to do is remember. In 1972, Sen. Edmund Muskie was the leading candidate against then-President Richard Nixon. The Nixon White House sent their dirty tricks division to bring down Muskie, releasing the infamous fake-"Canuck Letter." In responding and answering attacks on his wife, Muskie apparently wiped away a tear. That one tear (if it existed) was the first step in ending his candidacy.
You only have to remember as far back as the past election. The mantra by Republicans during the campaign -- mostly from Republican women -- was to "Man up." Trying to paint any man not uber-macho as a wimp, as weak.
Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "Man up." Christine O'Donnell told Mike Castle to "Man up." Sarah Palin blathered, "Hey, politicians who are in office today you, some of you need to man up."
I'm just waiting for all of them, for Dick Morris, Rush Limbaugh, for every Republican who blasts anything sensitive as weak to be fair and pummel John Boehner, telling him to Man Up.
I have nothing against John Boehner crying. But Republicans pretty much always have. After all, John Wayne doesn't cry.
On The View, former game-show contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck defended John Boehner: "Let's not crucify a man for getting emotional." Absolutely! Except -- well, Republicans have a history of crucifying men for getting emotional. John Kerry was ridiculed for sailboarding, using the word "nuanced" and seeming effete. In the 70s, they tried to destroy Ed Muskie for shedding a tear. It was one of their core complaints during the '60s, how the left wing Hippie-Peace-Love-Long Hair-Women's Movements were weakening men, feminizing them. And going back to the '50s, the whole "left wing" Folkie Movement was a Commie plot turning men into sensitive guitar-playing weaklings.
And now here's John Boehner, continually weeping his heart out over himself and having a job in college, and not a peep from Republicans to "Man up," how he's continually having an emotional breakdown and putting America at risk.
Imagine if it was Nancy Pelosi. Except that John Boehner wept more in 10 minutes on 60 Minutes than we've seen Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and John Kerry together cry in two years.
"It's full-bore crying," said Leslie Stahl about interviewing and wanting to mother Mr. Boehner. "It's not just little tears. It's really crying and he does it a lot."
And not a word from the hypocritical Republicans.
Rest assured, though, that John Boehner has remained tough and macho, at least about the poor and those he disagrees with. After two years falsely whining about President Obama not compromising, not being willing to work across the aisle, there was John Boehner on 60 Minutes scorning compromise. "I reject the word," he snarked. "I made it clear," he added, " I am not gonna compromise on my principles, nor am I gonna compromise the will of the American people."
Ah, there's the tough, macho, John Wayne that Republicans oh-so love. Not a weepy tear in sight. Never mind that the "will of the American people" still gives the Democrats control of the Senate and White House. Never mind that Mr. Boehner has fought that will for two years.
No, hypocrisy still flourishes. Tears still flow. Just as long as your unemployment insurance hasn't run out. Then, you're on your own. Man up.
Follow Robert J. Elisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RobertElisberg