Source: Clipartbest

The tears were flowing, baby. Did you notice?

Why, just in the last couple of days they were on full display in the confines of an august hearing room of the United States Senate. It was dramatic to watch. In fact, what made it somewhat fascinating to me was that these tears came solely from the men.

Men choking up on full public display. Who’d a thunk it?

First and foremost was the nominee for the Supreme Court, of course. But there was also the Democratic senator from Delaware who fought back his own tears while giving an interview. And then there was the Republican senator from Arizona who watched and listened to testimony with great discomfort and empathy. I have to admit I saw no actual tears from him, but it looked that at any minute like some just might come out.

SenatorJeff Flake (R-AZ)
Source: AZ Central

These were all surprises. We still don’t expect men to show such emotion.

The interesting thing is that the one person in the room who I actually thought would shed some tears was the alleged victim, Dr. Christine Ford. Perhaps she didn’t because the setting in which she found herself was so overwhelmingly intimidating that it somehow provided the measure of strength she desperately needed.

She was nervous for sure. One could immediately empathize for her situation in those early moments just before she gave her testimony, when she justifiably had a deer-in-the-headlight look.

Aside from an occasional quiver in her voice, in an earnest manner she answered all questions put to her in short and deliberate responses. She must have instinctively known that she wasn’t just representing herself, but scores of other women who tragically and understandably can relate to what she’s experienced. Teacher that she is, we also collectively received a brief lesson in how brain functions work with memories. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the next trivia night competition at my neighborhood watering hole. “Norepinephrine” and “epinephrine” are staying firmly in my frontal lobe, so to speak.

I found her testimony to be believable and completely sincere.

But what about the men? Was their own display of emotion any less genuine?

We admittedly have become accustomed to watching our public officials show a bit of posturing for the cameras, or go forward with meaningless platitudes that sound nice but ultimately mean nothing. Bill Clinton, for instance, had that robotic biting of his lip down to a practiced art; and don’t even get me started again with the meaningless thoughts and prayers statements we now hear after mass shootings.

With Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week, I think he was being completely sincere at what he feels is a wrongful attempt to impugn his name and character. He arrived at that hearing, as the old expression goes, loaded for bear. I actually don’t for one moment question his sincerity. My personal opinion, though, is that his outrage is more about the validity of whether an episode from his teens should have any bearing on his behavior in the years since, as a judge, husband, and father.

I also feel that he now labors under a heavy burden of shame as it extends to his parents and their role in his upbringing, particularly his mother, in whose professional steps he ultimately followed. His most significant outburst while reading his statement seemed to be when he mentioned his parents (matched closely to the moment he also brought up his daughters).

Source: Irish Mirror

But do I feel he was being sincere? You bet I do. It wasn’t necessarily the type of sincerity I was hoping to get from him, but it was sincere.

The reactions of Senators Coon and Flake are no less important to me either. If you watch the above video, Senator Coon is clearly struggling with the knowledge that trust, comity, and any attempt for bipartisanship in the halls of government are few and far between on a good day, let alone on this particular one. Senator Flake’s expression is one of utter concern and appreciation for Dr. Ford and her testimony. It was only 24 hours later when he was confronted by two women at a Senate elevator door, which in turn led to his later proposal with Senator Coon.

Of course, one wonders what Donald Trump made of all the waterworks going on at the hearing. The man who famously casts friends and enemies alike as “weak” must have been troubled by seeing his nominee become so emotional in public. When you base all of your important decisions on gut feelings along with a pretty healthy pre-1970’s world view, it must be awfully challenging to hold your fire and not go after all of them for being way less of a man than you think of yourself.

In spite of his public praise for Judge Kavanaugh’s performance, my hunch is Mr. Trump was also turned off by it. You watch, after this is all over we’ll read about how he mocked the judge to others in private.

In a spirit of full disclosure here, my own tears are embarrassingly on display all too often, though thankfully in the privacy of my own home at least. That damn Steve Hartman on CBS News with his On The Road reports never seems to fail in getting me to shed a few. I think it’s a function of age more than anything else. Go ahead, laugh at me if you wish; at this point in life there are far too many other things to worry about than anyone seeing me mopping my face after a sad story.

Probably the only thing any of us learned from this public odyssey is that people did show us their true selves. We may not have actually gotten to the truth, but we did see some very honest emotions that were wrapped up all around it.

Until next time…

19 thoughts on “Waterworks

  1. Many women have pointed out how a female would be portrayed in the media if she displayed that level of anger and tears. Hysterical… unhinged… even hormonal. I think Dr. Ford did so well, especially with the weight of her sisters world-wide on her shoulders. Btw, my husband has been known to shed a few tears while watching something emotionally charged on TV. I have to say, it warms my heart to know that he is unafraid to show his feelings like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He’s a kindred spirit no doubt, Janis. Yes, there’s such a HUGE (Yuuuuge?) double standard for women in this country, especially black women. Dr. Ford’s presentation was all the more powerful by us knowing how overwhelmed she was, yet at the same time FIERCE. She is amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Men and emotions are hard for me to judge especially with politicians (who I am convinced take acting lessons). We’ll see where it all ends up. My mother was the all time emotional person when watching TV although she was very stoic in real life. There should be some research on that! We buy tissues by the pallet!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Janis that woman who show emotion are often judged quite differently.
    As for Kavanaugh, I perceived his tears to be of anger and outrage at having to defend himself. As he barely answered a direct question, I couldn’t judge his emotion any further than that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m glad you went here Marty, and I really like that you wrote about the male tears aspect which was totally off my radar. I was terribly saddened when Flake announced early Friday that he planned to confirm Kavanaugh, and so heartened when they announced the compromise. It just showed a measure of consideration for what went on at the hearing. By the way, when a person is really innocent, they don’t mind investigations because they know they’ll turn up nothing. I was not swayed at all by Kavanaugh’s tears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just worry that there isn’t some diabolical plan with Grassley et. al. approving the investigation only to give Flake, Murkowski, and Collins cover to eventually vote for Kavanaugh anyway. Flake’s comments today, as usual, are in the right spirit. But he never fails to ultimately disappoint. Fingers crossed…


  5. Thanks Marty!

    “Probably the only thing any of us learned from this public odyssey is that people did show us their true selves.”
    I agree. I did see Kavanaugh’s ‘skills’ in avoiding answering questions, his lack of respect (e.g. when throwing back the ‘blackout’ question to Sen. Klobuchar), and how incredibly proud he is of his academic achievements and involvement in sports, repeated ad nausea when questioned about drinking and sex.
    His hiring of all these female clerks, to illustrates that he perceives women as equal?

    Sincere, maybe and mostly, considering it coming from a person who was not challenged nor ever held accountable. He only sees his truth based on his narrow-mindedness and entitlement given to him but not earned.

    No matter from what angle I look at it, whether deliberately or not, it was a bad performance and therefore…well, I hope many see this and draw their conclusions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, Elizabeth. I think I actually winced the hardest when he bragged about hiring female law clerks, as if that helps push back the allegations against him. And doubling down on his love of beer might have been the “nightcap” for all of his arguments. I have to believe that there are conservative jurists out there who are in silent disbelief by his answers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t have the wherewithal to watch the entire hearing, but from what I did see I agree that Dr. Ford was believable and Judge Kavanaugh was not. While I don’t like the precedent of investigating anyone’s teenage years and using it against them in the present, I admit that this hearing demonstrated that when under pressure Kavanaugh cracks, Ford doesn’t. I hadn’t thought of how The Donald would not like seeing men cry, but now that you mention it, I’m happy to think about how unhappy The Donald must be to have seen this display of emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ally. I’m certainly with you on how one’s teen years shouldn’t be used against anyone later as an adult. But at the same time, I also don’t think the “Devil’s Night” broken garage door windows I participated in with my Detroit-area boyhood friends are comparable to physically abusing teenage girls, and possibly college-age women just a few years later in life. Kavanaugh could have responded to these allegations in any number of ways and still maintained his innocence. That he’s chosen to do so by instead going off the rails speaks volumes. Doth protest too much…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Women have been after us for decades to not be so stoic and show some emotions. It’s not weak to cry has been drilled into society for a generation or two and it’s finally taken root. It wasn’t always like this. Trying to picture my emotionally dead father and equally ‘manly’ pals cry is a laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have nothing to add about this newest gong show that hasn’t already been said. There will be plenty of shame to share when Kavanaugh is eventually confirmed – because he will be. This is now a case of face-saving for the Republicans. They don’t seem to be burdened by the concept of doing the right thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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