Barbara Walters on Boehner’s tears: I think he might have an emotional problem

Via Greg Hengler, behold as the master of the weepy celebrity confessional interview, who’s been turning emotional problems into “news” for decades, suddenly discovers how off-putting tears can be. She’s right that there’s a different standard for crying when women politicians do it, but I’m not so sure that that difference benefits men. If Pelosi cried, she’d risk being branded as “soft” but she’d still be well within the bounds of acceptable female emotional display. Hillary’s tears just before the 2008 New Hampshire primary were a media sensation, but she suffered no real damage from it; on the contrary, some analysts speculated afterward that they helped her in the voting booth by humanizing her. When a male pol cries, he’s so far outside the paradigm of strong, stoic masculine leadership that not only does he come off as weak, he risks looking like a head case. (Muskie is, of course, the ultimate example.) No one here explicitly calls Boehner weak but Whoopi’s mockery makes her opinion of him clear enough, and of course Barbara’s got the “head case” narrative covered. You’d think Joy would seize the opportunity to call him a wimp or worse, but poor woman, she’s so stuck on her image of Republicans as heartless monsters that she can’t escape it even during a segment about a Republican who cries at the drop of the hat. In fact, her argument here — that Boehner only cries for himself — is contradicted by the bit that opens the segment, when he tears up at the thought of protecting the American dream for schoolchildren. But oh well. A narrative’s a narrative.

Two clips here, one of “The View” and the other an extra segment from last night’s “60 Minutes” in which Lesley Stahl talks about how impressed she is with Boehner’s authenticity. If there’s an upside to his outbursts, that’s it — that the new Republican Speaker, who, per party stereotypes, must necessarily embody all that is heartless and cold, actually has a soft nougaty center. I suppose that might come in handy from time to time, but as I said above, his behavior’s so far outside the standard political archetypes that I wonder if it won’t come to define him and turn him into a bit of a joke. His fate is in your hands, SNL.