Last week, Donald Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the last time he cried was when he was a baby. I cried today, reading Don Henley’s reaction to the death of Eagle bandmate Glenn Frey.
This isn’t the only difference between Donald Trump and me, but it is a big difference between Donald Trump and past presidents. Is it possible to have a presidential candidate who doesn’t emote?
President Obama has been publicly brought to tears by mass shootings, funerals, musical performances, racial violence, his grandmother’s death, and just recently, recalling the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He even admits to tearing up at the thought of his children leaving for college.
Former president Bill Clinton wiped a tear during ceremonies for the opening of the Flight 93 National Memorial, on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. And a tear ran down President George W. Bush’s cheek as he took part in a 2007 Medal of Honor Ceremony at the White House.
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In 1999, former President George H. W. Bush tearfully recalled the moments leading up to the start of the air war against Iraq. He also emotionally recounted in 2009 how five presidents called him after his wife’s open-heart surgery, and in 2012 he read a tearful letter to his family during an interview with his granddaughter about aging.
Former president Gerald Ford cried as he listened to a tribute to his wife, Betty Ford, at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. And there would have been a photograph of a grief-stricken President John F. Kennedy outside a hospital following the death of his newborn baby, had an aide not begged the photographer not to publish it.
Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower cried when he met with paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division ahead of D-Day during World War II, and in 1952, he cried after giving a speech at a luncheon for the 82nd Airborne.
Abraham Lincoln’s occasion of first hearing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was enough to make him sob. And he wept over the death of his longtime rival, Stephen A. Douglas.
And 227 years ago when George Washington went to New York to be sworn in as the first President of the United States, the Daily Advertiser wrote, “Every mind was filled with one idea and every heart swelled with one emotion.” And that Washington himself, “was obliged to wipe his eyes several times.”
So basically, for over two centuries our presidents have been openly moved to tears by tragedy, death, artistry, racism, family, aging, passion, loss, regret, gratitude, heroism, pride, accomplishment, valor, patriotism, and hope for America.
“No, I’m not a big crier. I like to get things done.” Trump said. “I know plenty of people that cry. They’re very good people.”
Yes, Donald. Yes they are.