And we can’t help but laugh.
After all, Boehner is a self-professed emotional man. He’s comfortable with his own tears, so why shouldn’t we be comfortable as well?
Emotions demonstrate passion. I, for one, would rather see a leader express emotion by crying rather than pounding fists on tables, raging, or swearing. Crying is a softer expression of emotion, and one that is usually associated with women.
But there is no doubt in my mind that if Nancy Pelosi had teared up as she was trying to get the health care bill passed that it would have severely hampered her efforts. Chances are there would have been tirades and immediate calls for her to step down.
When Hillary Clinton shed a tear on the campaign trail in New Hampshire she was immediately accused of being too weak. Critics asked, “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?” Clinton's challenge during her presidential run was to demonstrate that she was tough enough, according to Anne Kornblut in Notes From the Cracked Ceiling. She couldn’t afford to let her guard down. Clinton’s tears were certainly as genuine as Boehner’s, and gave us a rarely seen glimpse at a softer side of her.
Does our acceptance of Boehner’s tears this mean that we are ready to embrace our female leaders crying in public?
I think not. It’s exactly because we associate tears with women that this discrepancy exists. While we view men who shed tears as having an emotional side (a good thing), we view women who shed tears as weak when we need them to be strong. What do you think?