Emotions and presidents: In tears we trust?

By Angie Vogt, political commentary

  • Saturday, April 26, 2008 8:02am
  • Opinion

By Angie Vogt, political commentary

I remember a time when women had to be better than their male counterparts in order to compete, but now it appears that women only need to be “human” and prove that they “have soul.”

And I guess, if you can manage to be genuine once in a while, it means you’re extremely intelligent. This is according to some women voters from the New Hampshire primary who explained their inexplicable last-minute shift from supporting Sen. Barack Obama to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“Wow, she’s human!” exclaimed a woman voter, referring to Hillary Clinton’s misty-eyed coffee shop chat.

“When I saw the tear-up replayed on the news, it looked like Clinton was truly moved. It proved she had soul,” said Carol Brownwood, a New Hampshire voter and Clinton supporter.

Retired teacher Allison Hampton, 59 a retired teacher, changed her support from Obama to Clinton after witnessing the tender televised moment. “When she broke up at the end, that came from the heart. She’s genuine and extremely intelligent.”

I must admit that emotional sensitivity, as a qualifying trait for presidential office, has never entered my mind. A candidate’s ability to cry is certainly a unique consideration. I’ve seen plenty of clips of famous moments when presidents were brought to tears. I’ve seen the Commander-in-Chief fight back tears at funerals, while touring a demolished community after a natural disaster or during famous inspiring speeches at critical moments in history.

But on the campaign trail, responding to a softball question, that’s a new one. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. My concern is that it actually influenced voter support.

Every woman in America should be shaking her head at the display last week during the tumultuous New Hampshire primary. Not because Hillary won the primary, but because so many voters actually considered a person’s ability to have a genuine emotional moment as qualification for Commander-in-Chief.

Have we become a nation of Oprah viewers and reality TV junkies to the point that open displays of emotion are resume-enhancing qualifications for the most powerful job in the world?

In the face of such nauseating mush that passes for political commentary these days, I’d like to apologize to the spirits of true political heroes who risked everything, in order that their fellow citizens might advance their civilizations with political freedom.

Most recently, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in the Muslim world, which does not tolerate women having a public voice. She had plenty to cry about.

For generations of women who fought to have a voice and for most of the world’s women still fighting for their voice, it’s time to call American women on the carpet for such gullibility.

If you change your mind on which candidate you support, can it at least be because you prefer the policy positions, experience or viewpoints of that candidate and not because they have emotions?

For crying out loud, is crying out loud really that compelling?

I guess having freedom to vote is no guarantee that we’ll use it wisely.

For all those who yearned to be taken seriously for the substance of their character, for their vision, for their professional qualifications in the marketplace of ideas and for their contributions to the world, we really owe it to our country and the future of our children to choose our leaders based on more serious criteria, don’t you think?

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt can be reached at vogt.e@comcast.net.

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