[Editors note: Before some of you get your undies in a wad, you should know that the following entry was written primarily by Mrs. Hot Chick, one of our earliest and most dubious RTP crew members. So none of that predictable, knee-jerk, misogynistic conclusion-jumping from those who think we are being unfair to Beth Harwell. This is not the first time RTP has opposed a Speaker of the House who cried at the drop of the hat. That was John Boehner. He resigned to avoid being thrown out of the speaker’s chair.]
For several months RTP has been beset with numerous reports about Speaker Beth Harwell either openly sobbing, voice breaking, weeping or lip-quivering whenever she is confronted with a difficult situation. We are talking about well over a dozen separate reports (that we know about) of this happening. RTP largely ignored the first few as rumor, but the sheer volume coming from separate situations became too significant to ignore. Then The Tennessean (motto: “All Durham, all day, every day.”) reported during the special session “an emotional” Harwell addressed the GOP caucus “her voice breaking” during the middle of the Durham expulsion vote. This time there were about 60 witnesses.
Some – but not all – of these episodes are connected in some way to the Durham Debacle, in which Harwell has infuriated her colleagues by her inept handling of the whole affair. But such displays are not isolated to Durham trauma. It seems turning on the tears is Harwell’s go-to response for any uncomfortable professional confrontation or controversy that is directly tied to her leadership decisions. One legislator said there are many who feel they have to “tiptoe” around any pointed conversation they have with the Speaker for fear of saying something that will “turn on the water works.”
Harwell’s numerous sobbing or weepy responses to difficult political situations suggest either emotional/psychological distress or a calculated attempt to garner political advantage by playing the sympathy card. If it is the result of personal distress, she needs to seek professional help and remove herself from an important, high-pressure position whose duties have apparently escalated beyond her ability to cope. If the tears are for show, it would constitute a cynical attempt to manipulate her political opponents and even her allies and she should be ashamed. There are plenty of strong Republican women (or a few men) who could do the job without playing on sympathy.
It has to be one or the other. Which is it Madam Speaker?