Janice Shaw Crouse

Conventional wisdom says that a woman should never cry in the workplace, but I have seen incompetent staffers run to the boss in tears ... and get another chance. Professional women are told that they should get tough enough to never break down in the office under any circumstance. This week, though, the whole nation saw presidential candidate Hillary Clinton get all teary-eyed as she talked about why she is running for president and how much she fears that America might go backward.

There was talk that Hillary was losing it, that she didn’t have Margaret Thatcher’s steely composure. Analysts said that if she couldn’t handle the tough schedule of a campaign, she would not be able to handle the pressure of the presidency. When the polls continued to show her campaign in a free fall, pundits openly discussed the possibility that she would drop out of the campaign. She spent several hours floundering and lashing out. Her campaign began bragging (in liberal New Hampshire) that her abortion record was better than Obama’s. She sent Bill out to do the heavy lifting. He attacked Obama’s account of his record, calling it a “fairy tale.” Then, she executed a stunning “about face” with her heart-to-heart with the girlfriends.

Hillary’s near tears worked.

A woman who was in that meeting broke down in tears as she described for a television interviewer her emotional response to Hillary’s moment of humanity. On voting day, women in New Hampshire turned out to support their sister in distress; she got 46 percent of their vote (which was nearly 60 percent of the turnout). But aside from the vote tally, she obviously learned that cold logic will only take you so far. She realized that to go the distance takes “heart.”

Of course, there were other factors behind her success in the nation’s first primary. New Hampshire prides itself on not being like Iowa and not following Iowa’s example. The people in the focus groups went out of their way to point out their state’s individuality and to declare that they make up their own minds. It was obvious that few voters in New Hampshire wanted to replicate the results in Iowa. The field of candidates is remarkably balanced in both parties; there are no frontrunners. Many of those in the crowds at events waiting for a glimpse of a candidate were undecided. In fact, many voters did not make up their minds about who to vote for until the day of the election. There is a large body of independent voters in New Hampshire; there was no way to predict which way they would turn.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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