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Video: Should powerful men weep in public?

  1. Transcript of: Should powerful men weep in public?

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: There is a new wrinkle in the debate over whether it's OK for men to cry, especially powerful men in public forums. This after John Boehner , the next House speaker , teared up during a " 60 Minutes " interview. NBC 's Mike Taibbi has more. Mike , good morning to you.

    MIKE TAIBBI reporting: Good morning, Meredith , how are you? Outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't cry over politics, but she can't say the same about the surprisingly emotional man who's replacing her. John Boehner , soon to be the most powerful figure in the House of Representatives , often cries over pending legislation.

    Representative JOHN BOEHNER: And I think at the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people .

    TAIBBI: And he told " 60 Minutes " even the thought of talking to school children gets him all emotional.

    Rep. BOEHNER: Making sure that these kids have a shot at the American dream like I did, it's important.

    TAIBBI: On ABC's " The View ," they had a field day with it.

    Ms. JOY BEHAR: And we call him the weeper of the House .

    Ms. BARBARA WALTERS: This guy has an emotional problem that every time he talks about anything that's not raise taxes he cries.

    TAIBBI: But he gets away with it, Walters said, in a way that his predecessor, the outgoing speaker, would not.

    Ms. WALTERS: If you had seen Nancy Pelosi all these past years crying, what would you say ?

    TAIBBI: Well, they might have said what some said when Hillary Clinton appeared to cry at a difficult moment during the New Hampshire primary in 2008 , that the tears showed she was too weak for the tough stuff.

    Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON: I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

    TAIBBI: But others said it humanized her. She won New Hampshire . Of course her husband's frequent emoting during his presidency was seen by many as humanizing him, and George Bush 's supporters saw his public tears the same way. So that old '80s song by The Cure ...

    Mr. ROBERT SMITH: Boys don't cry...

    TAIBBI: ...may now be pretty much out of date. Tom Lutz , an expert on crying, says what matters now for men is why they're tearing up and when.

    Mr. TOM LUTZ (Author, "Crying: The Natural Cultural History of Tears"): Your kind of sense of a person's general sincerity is going to determine some of how you read their tears. There's the -- your sense of what the -- whether the circumstance warrants it.

    TAIBBI: Crying publicly might have sunk a dour Ed Muskie in his 1972 presidential campaign, and it won't win you fans if you're a governor cheating on his wife or a televangelist cheating on God.

    Mr. JIMMY SWAGGERT: I have sinned against you, my Lord.

    TAIBBI: But manly tears are no longer shocking, whether it's Glenn Beck regularly opening up the water works on Fox News , athletes tearing up over a loss or a win, and remember that reality show bachelor Jason Mesnick , crying constantly over which love interest to choose. And more politicians than you can count, giving vent to their not feminine side, but human side. Well, President Obama has also been known to shed a public tear, most notably after his grandmother died at the end of the campaign. It seems like in this new era, it is all right to cry, at least for the men. Meredith :

Vote: Is it OK for men to cry in public?

updated 12/14/2010 10:35:23 AM ET 2010-12-14T15:35:23

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