Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tears Starkly Human Compared to Usual Political Showmanship

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tears Starkly Human Compared to Usual Political Showmanship

Article excerpt

He didn't bawl.

His voice only roughened for a moment and he dabbed at a couple tears that straggled down his cheek. As displays of emotion go, it wasn't all that much. But it was, of course, more than enough. Inevitably, President Obama's tears became the takeaway from last week's White House speech on gun violence. They came as he recalled the 2012 massacre of six educators and 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Every time I think about those kids, said the president, tears shining on his cheek, "it gets me mad.

One grows used to thinking of politics as a craft practiced mostly by people who are only technically human. One grows used to their cynical manipulations and insincere triangulations, to their poll-tested smiles, and focus-grouped quips. Which is why this moment was arresting. The president wept, and it was a starkly human thing.

Or at least, that's surely how most of us saw it. It is a sign of how angry and hateful our politics have become that some conservatives refused to accept the moment at face value.

"I would check that podium for a raw onion, sneered Andrea Tantaros of Fox "News.

"He's putting something in his eyes to create the fascist tears, wrote John Nolte of Breitbart.

"(hashtag)Crocodile Tears tweeted actor James Woods.

One hardly knows how to respond. There isn't even anger. There is only embarrassment for them, only amazement that some people are so bad at being, well, people.

But the sense of disconnectedness, of the action being wholly at odds with some people's interpretation thereof, went far beyond the president's tears. To compare what Obama actually said as he seeks to rein in the nation's runaway gun violence with the way it was afterward construed by his political opposites is to feel as if one has fallen down the rabbit hole into an alternate reality where people drink trees and smell music and the idea that words have fixed meaning is about as real as the Tooth Fairy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.