There’s a difference between crying wolf and just crying,and last night Enda Kenny made it clear that he was on the verge of tears as he talked about the Magdalene laundry and that good old close-harmony tear-jerker, ‘Whispering Hope’. “Too hard!” you say. “The man was moved”.
Right. In the recent polls his party were moved to a place lower than (I can hardly bring myself to say this without reaching for a grubby hanky) Fianna Fail. But there’ve been others who’ve opened the tear ducts in public.
Ed Muskie, you’ll remember if you’re old enough, had tears streaming down his face in 1972, when he stood amid the snow of New Hampshire and defended his wife from criticism. He always claimed it was snow melting on his face, not tears; but either way it finished his presidential hopes. Maggie Thatcher had a dewy eye twice - once when her son Mark got lost in some remote place, and once when she got the heave-ho from Downing Street. “It’s a funny old world” she said as she bit her lower lip.
And on the subject of biting lower lips (their own), both Bill and Hillary Clinton could turn on the taps when necessary. “I’m so proud of her” Bill said, wiping away a tear when Hillary won the New Hampshire primary in 2008. Earlier in that primary, Hillary herself got a bit lachrymose. “I just don’t want to see us fall backward as a nation. I mean, this is very personal for me. Not just political”.
In Australia, Prime Minister Bob Hawke blubbered on TV when admitting to an extra-marital affair. “I’m only human” he told the interviewer. It worked - he won his fourth consecutive election victory the following year.
Nearer home, you’ll remember, QE2 got some stick for not crying when Princess Di came to a sticky end in that Parisian tunnel. Both David Cameron and Ed Balls claim to be wet-faced heaps when they watch The Sound of Music.Jeffrey Archer, novelist, Tory and former jail-bird says he gets very weepy watching washing-up liquid ads. “There is one where a mother washes up with her little girl. I always wanted a daughter - I burst into tears when I see it”. Fianna Fail's Senator Tom Fitzgerald was full of tears when Charlie Haughey resigned from office, and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was overcome during an RTÉ interview in 2006 as he considered his past: "It was a very dark period for me, a very sad period for me". Cue widespread sympathy for Bertie.
Will present-Taoiseach Enda’s choke-up last night result in a Fine-Gael-favouring swing in the polls? If it does I’ll be inconsolable.