Newt’s tears: Will they warm hearts?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

During a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, former Speaker Newt Gingrich teared up while talking about his mom. It was an obviously sincere and spontaneous moment. It showed his humanity. Even those who seem to harbor a visceral hatred of the man — who find nothing redeeming about him — might find this touching.

Crying, of course, was once political death — think Ed Muskie. But Hillary Clinton’s tears four years ago probably helped her win in New Hampshire. And Speaker John Boehner’s very frequent tears have, perhaps, helped remove the stigma of public crying.

My guess is that this was the result of a combination of things. Gingrich obviously loved his mom. That’s clear. But sleep deprivation — and the emotional toll that comes with running for president (enduring the slings and arrows of negative political attacks, for example) — were probably contributing factors. (I’m guessing that had something to do with Hillary’s tears, as well.)

Of course, some are speculating this could have an immediate impact — that it might actually help him rebound in Iowa as it helped Hillary in New Hampshire. We shall see. Politics aside, though, this moment, shows a softer side of Gingrich than is typically on display (though he was famously caricatured as a crying baby). Win or lose, some of his detractors might finally conclude that he’s not evil — that he’s flesh and blood.

As Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “I don’t trust a man who doesn’t cry.”

Matt K. Lewis