Episode #109: The Politics of Tears

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016.  Neal Conan kicks off the program with his take on the respective battles for the presidential nominations, in advance of next week’s Republican debate (January 14) and the Democratic debate three days later.

New Hampshire votes on February 9, with big implications for both parties.  But Fergus Cullen, the former chair of the state’s GOP, has written a new book, “Granite Steps,” which looks at memorable primary moments dating back to 1992 and Bill Clinton’s self-proclaimed “Comeback Kid” comment.

It was eight years ago this week when Hillary Clinton’s voice broke answering a question during an event in New Hampshire, which started a media overkill on whether she cried or not.  Crying in politics is not as rare as it once was — President Obama shed a tear or two this week discussing schoolchildren victims of gun violence, and former House Speaker John Boehner often couldn’t get through a sentence without his emotions getting the best of him.  That brought Tom Lutz, the editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of “Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears,” on the show.  He discusses the history of shedding tears in politics, starting with perhaps the most famous incident of all, Ed Muskie breaking down during the 1972 campaign in New Hampshire.

And finally, we remember Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas political giant (and giant killer), who died this week at the age of 90.  Janine Parry of the University of Arkansas talks about his career and legacy.

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