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Weeping Politicians

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Karen Downing

on 23 June 2018

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Transcript of Weeping Politicians

Politicians cry in public
Did these tears
change anything?
Weeping Politicians
Tears have history
The power and contingency of men’s tears
Dr Karen Downing
Australian National University

Political Masculinities as Agents of Change
9-11 December 2016
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
Newcastle Sun Herald
, 10 January 2016
(republished from
Daily Telegraph
, UK)
The Conversation
, 9 January 2016
, 9 January 2016
Washington Post
, 5 January 2016
Boston Globe
, 20 October 2014
, 12 April 2012
ABC News
, US, 9 November 2012
BBC News
, US and Canada,
4 November 2010
www.businessinsider.com, 6 January 2016
www.thedailybeast.com, 11 October 2012
www.youtube.com, 30 October 2014
www.youtube.com, 12 April 2012
The Times
, UK, 8 January 2016
Churchill and Fox

“Good on you Bob”
, I say to Mr Hawke,
not for his politics, but for
showing he is
– unlike many other politicians we have today.’
D. Watts, letter to the editor,
Canberra Times
, 26 September 1984.

‘In so far as I vote for (or against) politicians
I vote for “honest men and
women” – human beings who express human emotions
.’ Dr Allan A.
Bartholomew (Psychiatrist) to Hawke, 22 September 1984, Series RH 14/
Box 1, F9, Bob Hawke Papers, Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library.

‘Sir, - As the media hounds begin to bay at the heels of the Prime Minister for his
“break down” and “loss of control”, I am moved to express my respect for the man.
Surely we have outgrown the mythology of “big boys don’t cry”
. It is as
inaccurate and simple minded as sugar and spice and all things nice.
The ability to
suppress tears was never a valid measure of masculine strength nor ability to
A sensitive mediator of disputes between employers and unions must be
open to emotion. Effective mediation is stifled when emotions are suppressed.
I welcome the innovative approach Bob Hawke has brought to politics. I hope his
sensitivity helps to change the nature of the beast.’ David Fox, letter to the editor,
Canberra Times
, 11 October 1984

‘Quite apart from the way the incident underlined the fact that politicians
are human beings who often work under pronounced personal and
family pressures, it will hopefully also help to
turn around that
appalling Australian proposition that “grown men don’t
.’ Tony Staley to Hawke, 3 October 1984,
Series RH 14/Box 1, F9, Bob Hawke Papers,
Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library.
Bob Hawke
with businessman Alan Bond, 1983 (ABC News)
Winston Churchill
, 1954 (Winston Churchill 50th Anniversary: A Life in Pictures, bt.com
Charles James Fox
, by
Karl Anton Hickel, oil on canvas,
1794, National Portrait Gallery,
Sunday Mail
, Qld
Isaac Cruikshank
cartoon, detail
‘He exudes confidence and star appeal. On a platform or in a crowd, Mr Hawke swivels like a boxer and punches the air. Crowds flock to see him, as though he were Menzies, and are not disappointed in what they see:
a fit and virile figure in his mid-fifties, who glorifies in his Australianness, which seeps from every pore
Michael Noel-Thompson,
Financial Times
19 November 1984
‘You are a
natural leader

and a strong man.
Only a strong man will cry in public
‘It was
to see the
Australian Prime Minister giving a television
interview with tears washing his cheeks … it is a
first step towards
coming to terms if the sufferer
can weep
, cry out ... of course this
should not be
allowed to go on for months
... As a rule,
adult tears
should be shed in the company of those who care,
not displayed to the media millions

or to manipulate.’
Dr Joan Gomez,
‘Should Tears From a Man Still Startle
Us Today?’,
Daily Telegraph
26 September 1984
of the British Parliament was
never more evident than when Mr. Thomas
and Sir Alfred Butt spoke their farewells to the
House on Thursday... When Mr. Thomas finished
his simple courageous speech there were
unashamed tears
in many eyes and Mr. Churchill and Mr. Maxton made
no attempt to conceal their emotion
Sunday Times
, 14 June 1936.
-- If --

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you …

… If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same …

… If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much …

… Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—
you’ll be a Man
, my son.

Rudyard Kipling, 1910
‘War has accentuated the passion
for noise and flamboyancy. Once upon a time the
spokesman of warring nations vied with each other in a
contest for dignity. Now at any rate in Germany, they use the
radio for blackmail
for burlesque and
treat truth as if it were an
old Jew caught by a company of storm troopers
in the market place.

Even after the war started Mr. Chamberlain prepared his speeches as if the world were still sane. The content was admirable, but the language was precise and the argument legalistic.
The public wanted headlines and it
was given logic. It wanted tears, and was given reasoned argument.

Mr. Chamberlain’s critics said that he was being splendidly honest, but
that it wasn’t war. They said the
public wanted to feel, not to think
Let me confess that I found myself agreeing with them to a
considerable extent. In war-time a nation’s leader should
speak with words of fire.’

Sunday Times
, 15 October 1939
Winston Churchill,
First Speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons,
13 May 1940
‘MR. Fox, upon rising to reply,
burst into tears
; with which the House
appeared to be greatly affected, and amidst which he
addressed Mr. Burke in a strain of ...’
Lloyd’s Evening Post
6-9 May 1791

‘Mr. Fox rose again, and began his speech in a tone and manner which proved
him to be deeply affected by what had fallen from Mr. Burke. Indeed his feelings
were so powerful, that his words were frequently interrupted by
expressions of
sensibility which proved the excellence of his heart
and the degree of sincere
regard that he had ever entertained for Mr. Burke.’
Diary or Woodfall’s Register
, 7 May 1791

‘Mr. Fox rose again, but so much was his heart affected, that it was some moments before
he could proceed -
Tears rolled down his cheeks
- and he strove in vain to give utterance
feelings that dignified and exalted his nature
General Evening Pos
t, 7-10 May 1791

‘Mr. Fox having laboured for some time in an
agony of perturbation
, and at length
bursted [sic] into tears
, which arrested the feelings and sympathy, in a particular
and affecting manner, of the whole House! When the first emotions subsided, he
attempted to speak - but was a second time prevented by an
effusion of tears
which deeply affected all present.’
, 7 May 1791

‘Mr. Fox’s agitation and tears in Friday’s Debate, certainly denote
natural goodness of heart
, a strong susceptibility of friendship,
and a firm personal attachment to Mr. Burke.’
, 9 May 1791
‘Mr. Fox rose with such
evident emotions of pain and
distress, that however susceptible
the circumstance may be of
colouring at some other time, it would
betray want of sensibility and feelings at this
time, to talk of it with levity
. His agitation was extreme, and frequent effusions of tears choaked
[sic] and embarrassed his utterance for a great part
of his speech.’ Oracle, 7 May 1791

‘We hear that the sculptor who exhibited
Mr. Fox’s bust
in the Royal Academy, has begged permission to withdraw the head, in order to give it
its most appropriate character
, which was omitted in the original, viz. -
the Lachrymals
World, 13 May 1791
‘In both a statement and at a press conference
at Parliament House, during which Mr Hawke broke
down and cried
... Then as
tears built up and ran down his cheeks
…’ Paul Malone,
Canberra Times
21 September 1984

‘We had the same debate in 1981.
Will crying help or hurt Bob Hawke’s standing with the electorate?
Just about all the pundits were wrong then … voters were not necessarily turned off by a display of raw emotion.
They did not equate tears with weakness
… Will voters believe that Mr Hawke cracked under pressure, and disapprove? Or will they agree with Mr Wran’s comment yesterday afternoon that “it’s not an indication of weakness to show you love your children”.’ Laurie Oakes,
, 21 September 1984

‘Politics is a
rough and dirty game
and all who enter it should know what to expect, especially if they join in the mud-slinging.’ Editorial,
Canberra Times
, 24 September 1984

‘Australians are entitled to the guarantee that their
leader has the moral fibre
to carry the pressures of national
calamity. After the Prime Minister’s
“I want Mummy’”
today it is clear Australia has no such leader at
present.’ Hugh Waller, ‘The PM’s public tears’,
Canberra Times
22 September 1984
‘the demonstration which followed his magnificent speech to-day, and which by its
warmth and unfeigned sincerity moved him to tears
. When he rose to move that the House should go into secret session his voice faltered and he scarcely troubled to hide his emotion.
It is a stupid notion, and one which an earlier age would not have understood, that tears are a sign of womanly weakness. One they were the mark of sensibility, and even the strongest men were not ashamed to weep
.’ London Letter (Editorial),
Western Daily Press
, 5 July 1940

Invincible Leader
: this is the picture I would like to leave with you of the Prime Minister. A battalion of the Coldstreams was drilling before him, and as he watched the perfect rhythm of their movements
his eyes filled with tears
. If you can understand that surge of feeling, can fell what he felt,
you have got to the heart of the making of soldiers and sailors and airmen
which has stood between us and the utter ruin of our cause through all these anxious years.’
The Times
, 3 March 1944
Clementine Churchill (nee Hozier)
in St. Mortiz, Switzerland in 1937, theneotrad.com
‘Mrs Churchill’s Impressions of Russia: After the broadcast, M. Herriot said to me:- “
I am afraid you may think it unmanly of me to weep
. But I have just heard Mr. Churchill’s voice. The last time I had heard his voice was on that day in Tours in 1940 when he implored the French Government to hold
firm and continue the struggle. His noble words of leadership that day
were unavailing. When he heard the French Government’s answer,
and knew that they meant to give up the fight,
tears streamed
down Mr. Churchill’s face. So you will understand that
if I weep to-day, I do not feel unmanned
The Times
, 30 May 1945

Lachrymose politicians cannot rule a nation
. While Mr. Lloyd George is
weeping, the German are building Dreadnoughts. His tears do not
interest them. They are accustomed to take the world as it is, and
their amazing progress in all that makes for the greatness of a
nation has not been built up on Utopian dreams.’
Sunday Times
, 10 January
‘Mr. Fox rose to reply, but his mind was
so much agitated and his
heart so much
by what had fallen from Mr. Burke,
that it was some minutes before he could
Tears trickled down his cheeks
, and he strove in vain to give utterance to
feelings that dignified and exalted his nature
. In justice to the House, it must be said, that the
of every one present seemed to be uncommonly excited upon the occasion. Being at length recovered from the depression under which he had risen, Mr. Fox proceeded to answer the assertions which had caused it.’ Parliamentary Register
Bust of Charles James Fox,
marble, by Joseph
Nollekens, c.1791
Isaac Cruikshank, ‘Wrangling Friends'’
10 May 1791, British Museum: 1868,0808.6049
Frederick Georgy Byron, ‘The Volcano of Opposition’ 16 May 1791, British Museum: 18680808.6053
Jame Gillray, ‘The Impeachment’, May 1791, British Museum: 1851,0901.525
effect of his display of
has been to turn the issue of
organised crime dramatically
in favour of the
.’ Mike Steketee, ‘Hawke’s honest emotion
tips a see-sawing debate’,
Sydney Morning Herald
, 21 September 1984.


‘The Prime Minister of Australia was
crying for his daughter, a drug addict
. The
tears drooped like kerosene on embers. The drug debate exploded. And heroin,
the smouldering evil that had trapped Rosslyn Hawke, was, the debate’s most
volatile fuel.

By January the next year, the Minister for Health, Dr Blewett, had foreshadowed a
national campaign against drug abuse
. By March there had been a meeting of State
Ministers for Health. On April 2 there were a drugs summit, a communique,
$100 million, and a born-again vigilance.

Tomorrow night, in a televised address to the nation, Mr Hawke will launch
the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse … most essential of all,
the Government did not want to lose the impetus that had built
up since the Prime Minister’s tears

Debbie Cameron,
Canberra Times
5 April 1986.
‘The post-race interview with
winning equestrian Shane Dye ... was interesting
in that Mr Dye had a little weep while we watched him
thanks to the example set by Mr Hawke, the whole
nation is feeling free to burst into tears
Ian Warden,
Canberra Times
, 13 November 1989.

‘People still wept in wartime, even tough working people, but, for the most part, the prevailing attitude was that
the blood, toil, and sweat should be endured without tears
. It was considered selfish to wallow in one’s own feelings, let alone to display them
through hysterical weeping, when the whole nation
was suffering together.’
Thomas Dixon,
Weeping Britannia
, 238

Fox, as an orator
appeared to come immediately from
the forming hand of nature. He spoke well,
because he
felt strongly and earnestly
. His oratory was
impetuous as the current of the River Rhone; nothing could
arrest its course, His voice would insensibly rise to too high a
key; he would run out of breath. Every thing showed
how little artifice there was in his eloquence
. Though on all great occasions he was throughout energetic, yet it was by sudden flashed and emanations that he electrified the hearer. I have seen his countenance lighten up with more than mortal ardour and goodness; I have been present when his voice has been
suffocated with the
sudden bursting forth of a torrent
of tears
William Godwin,
London Chronicle
25 November 1806

Mr Fraser
Mr Hawke well as Prime Minister,
made a brief statement and left his Southern Cross
Hotel news conference with
tears in his eyes
.’ Teresa Mannix, ‘PM takes blame’,
Canberra Times
, 6 March 1983
‘He was talking about political foe Wilson “Ironbar” Tuckey, who this week
came within a whisker of bursting into a flood of tears in Parliament
… Mr Hawke’s tears did him no harm in the eyes of the public. People seemed impressed by his candour, and not scornful at all about his loss of control.
Sympathy for the
out spoken Mr Tuckey might not be so generous
. To many people,
“Ironbar” has been dealt
a long-overdue comeuppance
Jeremy Thompson, ‘Few rules in politics’
“tough game”’,
Canberra Times
22 September 1990
Sydney Morning Herald
21 September 1984
‘It’s very commendable for
Bob Hawke to weep on television for
the Chinese people in Beijing. However, perhaps
he could also spare a few tears for the Australians who
face personal disaster because of 17 per cent interest rates
on their mortgages.
Better still, he might even consider
doing something about the situation. But, then again, it’s
easier just to weep.
’ A. M. Kaminskas, ‘Easier to weep’, letter
to editor,
Canberra Times
, 16 June 1989.

‘No matter how many tears Hawke and his cronies may shed
in the future, all thinking Australians will know that
compassion is false; used to catch votes rather than
support action
. May a Labor split come quickly!’,
Jonathan Millar, Ruth Birgin, Steven Loof,
letter to the editor,
Canberra Times
15 July 1986.
W. K. Haselden, ‘The Little Boy Who Got No Cabinet Pudding’,
Daily Mirror,
12 December 1905
Isaac Cruikshank, 'The gallant Nellson bringing home two uncommon fierce French crocadiles from the Nile as a present to the king', 1798, British Museum: 1867,0511.64
‘Just three weeks ago there
was his
tearful reaction to questions
about whether he had had any truck with criminal
figures involved in drug trafficking
, and whether he might be
winding up the Costigan Royal Commission for that reason …
these events did not provide answers (and nothing has since) to these questions
.’ Gay Davidson, ‘An election with no real issues’,
Canberra Times
, 11 October 1984
Geoff Pryor,
Canberra Times
, 21 September 1984
Lindsay Fox to Hawke,
25 September 1984,
Series RH 14/Box 1, F9,
Bob Hawke Papers, Bob Hawke
Prime Ministerial Library.
Negotiating tensions
Daily Mail, UK, 28 February 2009
Emotional Expression vs Rational Argument

Emotional Control vs Authenticity
Agents of change?
Full transcript