Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wet badge of courage. When I was growing up, if a man cried in public, he was considered weak, effeminate or emotionally unstable. Now, it's not just OK for men to cry in public, its a show of strength, a display of sensitivity and (supposedly) emotional honesty. The wet badge of courage. In case you missed on TV or the web, new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow teared-up during his first briefing today. As The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported the briefing took on the look of Oprah.
The new White House press secretary gave his first televised briefing yesterday, and the former Fox News commentator was dispatching questioners with a sprightly blend of barbs, colloquialisms and one-liners. Then a local TV reporter in the back asked why Snow was wearing a yellow wristband.

"It's going to sound stupid, and I'll be personal here," Snow, a survivor of colon cancer, said of his Lance Armstrong bracelet. Then he choked up. Unable to speak, he raised his hand, gripped the lectern and drummed his fingers while 10 seconds of silence passed. "Having gone through this last year," he continued, and then he lapsed into another silence. Finally, he added: "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."

Nine more seconds of awkward silence followed as Snow struggled to regain his composure. "It's my Ed Muskie moment," he quipped, and the briefing room filled with laughter.

The ironies here are amazing. A conservative Republican helping men to crack the "mask of masculinity" and demonstrating how to become more sensitive, more feminine. I wonder what Muskie himself would make of the reference to him by a spokeman for the Bush Administration, whose policies he would almost certainly would have opposed. After losing the race for the presidential nomination, Muskie became President Carter's Secretary of State in 1980. He died in 1996.


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