Clinton’s teary moment showed voters she is human after all

Column by Carrie Bass

The recent drama of the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic Primary has left me stunned along with the rest of the country.

On Tuesday night the major news networks closely resembled one of the marathons of my favorite reality shows that ran constantly over the break: an emotional rollercoaster with euphoric highs and debilitating lows as well as a winner that no one saw coming.

The Comeback Kid has returned, only this time the role has gone to a woman.

I have had my reservations about Sen. Hillary Clinton practically since birth. I grew up in a culture where Clinton’s name was a symbol of the anti-woman, a she-male whose reputation effectively scared me away from Legos toward the more gender-appropriate Barbies. Clinton was a warning to girls and young women that loud, aggressive women inevitably become the person everyone loves to hate. I had no desire to become public enemy No. 1 and have questioned Clinton’s decision to accept such a role and, consequently, her integrity ever since.

However, in the past week my feelings on Clinton have softened from cautious to something akin to respect.

Only two other news stories rivaled the popularity of the Clinton upset: the continued descent of Britney Spears and the appearance of tears in Clinton’s eyes during a public appearance.

I could not believe it, but Clinton is in fact capable of tears, of public emotion.

A part of me could empathize with her at that moment because she showed herself to be more than a politician. She showed herself to be human.

“Human” is a persona that her primary competitor, Sen. Barack Obama, has been rocking for his entire political career.

Obama is free to present that approachable side of himself since he has the distinct advantage of being male and, thus, his ability to command as a strong leader is never in question. Despite the disadvantages Obama may face from racist nutjobs, at the end of the day everyone can rest easy knowing that he is a competent and authoritative man.

Unfortunately for Clinton, she does not have the benefit of masculinity. Perhaps her icy, impersonal appearance is actually a facade or overcompensation for the toughness that is not associated with her gender.

Her tears helped chip away at the frightening figure that has been Hillary Clinton for most of my life and revealed a new person that I felt might be a leader, not a politician.

Nor was I alone. Following the teary-eyed appearance, women in New Hampshire voted for Clinton at 47 percent to 34 percent over Obama, and married women preferred her by a slightly reduced percentage, CNN reported Wednesday.

I do not believe that women voted for Clinton because women cry; I believe that women voted for Clinton because, as the stoic politician, she never brought anything new to the table. Clinton was the female equivalent to the boring disasters that were Al Gore and John Kerry.

As a human being capable of reaching her breaking point, Clinton brings something different to her campaign, just like Obama brings something different in his youthful affability.

If Clinton can keep up her new, approachable self, she might just win the presidency.

Carrie Bass is an art history senior. E-mail [email protected].