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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 12/13/2010

No Boehner, No Cry

By Alexandra Petri


John Boehner, do you need a tissue?

Why is everyone crying? First Glenn Beck -- now John Boehner! Weren't they raised in the era when someone would explain to you as a child that crying in front of people made you look weak, or, at best, confused those around you?

I haven't cried since I last watched the ending of "Return of the Jedi." And that was a while ago. I just find it very moving, and I worry vaguely about the loss of civilian life during in the construction of the second death star. As a child, I used to cry at the drop of a pin, but I toughened up over time.

But what is going on? What happened to all the conservative men? Everywhere I look, they're tearing up!

Speaker Boehner, did someone spill milk? Are you feeling all right? Are you saddened by the idea that tax reform is going to pass? Remember, we all must pass eventually. Are you a crocodile? Have you been hanging out with Glenn Beck? Are you sick of the jibes about your hue? Is it Bristol Palin's loss on Dancing With the Stars? Please, tell me! I have no idea how to respond to any of this.

One universal human characteristic is that -- with the exception of mothers and gifted empaths -- we tend to feel uncomfortable around people who are crying.

When presented with someone on a crying jag, our first response is to apologize profusely, if somewhat vaguely. "Things will get better," we say. "You are swell." I know that the proper thing to do next is to offer a shoulder to cry on, but I always worry that the person will cry for an indefinite length of time and I will have to stand there for hours. My shoulder will go numb, and I will say something brusque that undoes all the progress we've made. If you don't think this is a real concern, consider that a woman named Niobe once wept until she turned into stone! That takes a while, and I might need to go visit the restroom at some point.

Ideally, the way this scenario would work would be that we would evince concern and then ask: "Do you need a shoulder to cry on?" If the person nodded, we would shout, "Jenkins!" and a small bearded gentleman would rush in to offer his shoulder with consummate professionalism.

The problem isn't even that it's men who are crying. That's fine! Crying, like childbirth, is a previously female prerogative that I'd be happy to split fifty-fifty. But instead, there's Boehner, getting lachrymose all over our TV sets. "I can't go to schools anymore," he says. "I'm sorry!" we say. "It's about the American dream," he says. "You are swell," we say. None of it makes any sense.

To me, it seems as though wires have been crossed. When I watch Boehner blubber, I'm not even sad. I'm just confused. It's like those people on Maury who are terrified of pickles. Produce a jar, and the floodgates open. "What?" we say, watching. "I think you're missing a step somewhere in there."

I would be, frankly, consoled if Boehner were watching a movie and crying, or hearing a moving story. But it's nothing like that. He's choked up by some sort of mysterious narrative transpiring inside his own head. He's not crying out of empathy, because he's connected to others. He's crying because he's wrapped up in himself.

It's like Nora Ephron said: "Beware of men who cry. It's true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own."

By Alexandra Petri  | December 13, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Epic Failures, Petri, Seems Suspect  | Tags:  Don't Ask, John Boehner, Star Wars  
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This certainly looks like a guy on a crying jag. He cries over too many things that have no relevence to be sober.

Posted by: irenemh0 | December 13, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Woman thou does't cry too much!

Posted by: kageees | December 13, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Boehner's tears remind me of a scene in the 1992 movie, "Hoffa", with Jack Nicholson as Teamster boss, Jimmy Hoffa.

Nicholson is crying while watching an opera when someone whispers in his ear that Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Hoffa's arch enemy, is dead. The tears stop immediately, and Nicholson breaks into a great big grin.

Thousands of people are dying because of our broken health care system. If Boehner is able to keep it broken, expect those tears to change to a big grin!

Posted by: divtune | December 14, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Nobody should feel less of a man for just crying. It might reveal an emotional disability, mental limitations or something similar. If John can do his job, that's what's important. We should accept people the way they are, regardless of what their external appearances are. Again, as long as he can do his job in the new Congress, he should be all right. We should accept people with disabilities at all levels of the government and private sector.

Posted by: rockiniowa | December 14, 2010 3:34 AM | Report abuse

bitter a little?

Posted by: drewsterdawg | December 14, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Boehner is crying because soon he will be the new Speaker of the House and he has no idea what he should do. I think he has been informed that "no" will not work when the people expect the Republicans to begin governing. I would cry too.

Posted by: desmo134 | December 14, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

People who know alcoholics recognize Boehner's crying as a particular kind - drunk weeping.

Posted by: motogp46 | December 14, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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