the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

*"Farklempt" (or "verlempt") is the Yiddish word for too emotional to talk, ready to cry, or on the verge of tears. "Veynen" means to cry, to weep.

Politicians, athletes, actors, lawyers, and others have been known to cry in public. New York Yankees, Darryl Strawberry, fell into the arms of Joe Torre on national TV. Gwyneth Paltrow was so tearful on national TV that she could barely speak when awarded her Oscar for best actress in 2005. Bill Clinton sniffles openly, and Bob Dole became choked up while recalling how people in his home state helped him with his war injuries.

When O. J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder, prosecutor, Chris Darden, glared angrily at the jurors in disbelief and dismay and choked on his tears.

And in 1972, when public crying was still so unacceptable, candidate Edmund Muskie was driven out of the U. S. Presidential race when he shed tears during a speech. He teared up while responding to a newspaper's allegations that his wife was unladylike (for smoking, drinking and cussing) and that he was unfriendly to French Canadians. Muskie said it never happened; his face was dampened by snowflakes ("shneyelekh.")

Former Congressman, Pat Schroder, memorably broke down upon announcing (Sept. 28, 1987) that she would not seek the Democratic nomination for president in 1988.

Louisiana Gov. Blanco was shaken and often on the brink of tears while talking about the crisis that hit New Orleans and Mississippi.

A "frage"--a question: Is crying a loss of control or a sign of weakness?

Dr. William Frey says that "there might be some value in open emotional crying. Today, it might even be a plus for politicians to cry. People now like the idea that our leaders can be open about their feelings."

Jeffrey A. Kottler ("The Language of Tears") said, "No word or action speaks louder than a single tear," and Phil Donahue said, "I think people who never cry are like people who never laugh. There's something wrong with them."

F-a-s-t f-o-r-w-a-r-d to 2008. Hillary Rodham Clinton shed tears during her campaign in New Hampshire. Is there any truth to the expression, "She who cries, wins"? Was it a "manufactured moment"-- a moment designed to save her failing campaign? A stunt? Were the tears real, crocodile tears, or "tsibele trern" (onion tears)?

As a kid I grew up hearing the proverb, "Ven men lakht ze-en ale; ven men veynt zet keyner nit"--Laugh and everyone sees; cry and you cry alone.

Peggy Noonan (WSJ) writes, "Let's look at the tears before they harden like resin into cliche. Quickly. She was taking questions in a diner, a woman asked how she does it each day, she started talking about how hard it is, and she got misty-eyed, her voice soft for once--conversational, not hectoring...When George Bush senior cries in public, it's considered moving. Ditto his moist-eyed son." Ms. Noonin adds that unlike the Bush's, Mrs. Clinton was weeping about Mrs. Clinton.

Prior to the diner moment, she had said, "If you get too emotional, that undercuts you. A man can cry--but a woman, that's a different kind of dynamic."

Hannele Rubin (Letters to the Editor, New York Times, 1/10/08) wrote, "If Senator Clinton tears up, she is thought weak. But, if she maintains her composure (under duress that would squash most mere mortals), she is seen as an ice ("ayz") princess, lacking in humanity ("mentshkayt)."

In conclusion, ALL the candidates for President should keep this Yiddish proverb in mind:

"Keyner veyst nit vemes morgn es vet zayn"--No one knows whose tomorrow it will be.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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