The Crying Game

At Albee's Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire, the conversation is as straightforward as the food.

Larry Theodosopoulus has been lunching here with his friends John Dudziak and Saul Ellerin almost every weekday for the last 30 years.

They've met a lot of politicians, and as CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports, they've developed a fair bit of cynicism along the way.

"They will say anything to get elected," says Theodosopoulus.

And that, he says, has not changed over the years.

But what has changed, the guys agree, is the way they say it.

For example, 30 years ago, candidate Edmund Muskie was forced out of the race after he cried in front of the camera and country.

"He wasn't allowed to cry," says Dudziak, but today "he's required to cry."

"It's like pay TV," says Saul Ellerin. "It's on demand."

John Kerry shed tears at tales of financial hardship, and Wesley Clark has choked up as he talked about the victims of the Bosnian War.

Even on his way out of the race, Dick Gephardt wasn't afraid to well up with emotion.

"These tears that these politicians shed now, I don't believe it," says Theodosopoulus.

Voters in the Granite State can be as tough as the stone that gave New Hampshire it's nickname, but the politicians who play to them are also playing to a national audience, and in these "touchy-feely" times, it's not the economy stupid, it's the emotion.

"We have as a society become more therapeutic," says Dr. Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist.

For example, 15 years ago, when rumors surfaced that Michael Dukakis had been in therapy, then-President Reagan was less than sympathetic: "I'm not going to pick on an invalid."

That attitude now seems straight from the political Stone Age, rendered so out of touch by the lip-biting, "pain feeling" Bill Clinton.

"He's the gold standard of therapy," Renshon says, referring to Clinton.

But it turns out the real forbidden emotion may not be sadness, but anger. Just ask Howard Dean, whose candidacy has been slipping ever since his outburst in Iowa.

But to the boys back at Albee's, it's all just another chapter in the same old book.

"They don't seem real at all to me," says Dudziak.
  • Jaime Holguin

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