Roy Exum: Suck It Up, Buttercup!

Friday, January 25, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In the luscious 1992 movie about women’s baseball, “A League of their Own,” there were some hysterical one-liners but the one everybody remembers is when baseball manager Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, corners a sobbing left-fielder Evelyn Gardner, played by Bity Schram, and tells her, “There’s no crying in baseball … no crying!”

So you had to think of that on Wednesday when our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, teared up at a Senate hearing on Benghazi. Some feel she may be the most popular politician in America right now and, as she told John McCain, “For me, this is not just a matter of policy … It’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews.

I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children."”

Good grief -- if ever women are really going to break “The Glass Ceiling” – or become the first female president -- they ought to be reminded to leave the hysterics at home. As Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist, wrote, “A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched (the TV screen) over and over, drawn to the ‘humanized’ Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. ‘We are at war,’ he said. ‘Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?’

Dowd then wrote, “Another reporter joked: ‘That crying really seemed genuine. I’ll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.’ He added dryly: ‘Crying doesn’t usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.’”

About the same time, half a world away at the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, upcoming French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had an easy explanation. In case you missed it, the witty Frenchman played a terrific five-set match with Roger Federer, losing in a heart-breaker and afterwards some writer asked him when somebody – anyone – would break into the now-legendary Big Four in men’s tennis.

It seems the quartet of Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have ruled the game in recent years and – you guessed it -- in Melbourne the same Big Four is again in the semifinals of the first Grand Slam event. So why can’t the promising Tsonga or somebody like David Ferrer crash the party?

“To be honest, I have no idea. You know, if you have some advice for me, I will take it because I don't know. I don't know what is the difference," the 22-year-old said in broken English. “I wasn’t missing much, but I was still missing something,” said Tsonga.

But then things really got zesty. Not only does the athletic Tsonga not know how to speak English very well, he doesn’t know when to shut up. Some sports wag asked him why the Top Ten in women’s play wasn’t in the same fix the “Big Four” has caused in men’s tennis.

“You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us,” he said. “I’m sure everybody will say it's true, even the girls, he said, immediately noticing the sudden raised eyebrows of the female writers. “No? No, you don’t think? But, I mean, it’s just about hormones and all this stuff. We don’t have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That’s it.”

Oh faith and Gomorrah. The wager “down under” is that Tsonga better not get near the female locker room without a surgeon who is able to remove a racquet from a man’s delicate regions. After all, Serena Williams was fined $1,500 at this week’s tournament for breaking her racquet into bits during an outrage and other women on the tour also have tempers.

But who would have ever thought “the art of tears”  would be brought into the political fray?  Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) praised Secretary Clinton’s emotion. "You were heartbroken by those losses in Benghazi. We saw it in your face many times –  today as well. You were heartbroken, personally and professionally."

And remember when President Obama just teared up over the elementary school kids at Newtown, wiping away tears? As writer Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor wrote, “It's a visible and powerful reminder that they are human beings, too, a way to connect with a public that often tends to see politicians as a lower life form.”

Please, somebody tell me this isn’t a new trend. Tears are good, they are cleansing and – at the right time –  are immensely comforting but when our Secretary of State pulls the trick at a Senate hearing, that’s a little much and – let’s face it – “hormones and all that stuff” are a big reason the glass ceiling is still there.

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