Pundits Loved Boehner's Tears, But Imagine if Pelosi Had Cried

Last night, when making his victory speech celebrating a broad swatch of Republican wins, soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner shed a tear or two, much to the fascination and delight of many (non-MSNBC) pundits watching.

Irin Carmon points out the double standard at Jezebel:

Watch out, Glenn Beck. The Republican takeover of the House has anointed John Boehner Speaker, and he's publicly in touch with his feelings. Just like Nancy Pelosi! Oh wait, women in power can't do that.

And Hanna Rosin chimes in at DoubleX, adding that for many male politicians (who have often passed a manliness threshold to begin with) an occasional teary moment can bring a windfall of humanizing sympathy.

But still, not fair. Bill Clinton could always cry to great effect. Obama has teared up when talking about his grandmother. Both Bushes have teared up on occasion. But imagine if Nancy Pelosi started crying right now on television because she is no longer the House speaker. Sharron Angle would swoop down immediately, yank her hair and yell, “MAN UP!”

They're both completely right. And it's particularly salient to remember what happened to Hillary Clinton during her unscripted moment of emotional candor at the New Hampshire primaries. Sure, women voters flocked to her side. But that was mostly because every news anchor and even her rivals participated in a huge pile-on, deriding her for her apparent weakness.

As Nancy Pelosi, our first ever female Speaker of the House prepares to step down -- and the conservative masses jump into sexist name-callingto bid her farewell -- we ought to remember that this was one of the many small but far-reaching higher bars and double standards she handled fearlessly while getting her job done. It's remarkable how well she was able to govern.  "Her outspokenness, her unapologetic liberalism, and -- yes -- her gender, made her a rich target for Republicans, especially when the economy collapsed. But she refused to back down," writes Salon's Steve Kornacki, adding to the growing chorus of voices praising Pelosi as one of the most effective Speakers ever.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 3, 2010, 4:36am

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