Monday, March 05, 2007

With so many trivial stories fighting for our attention, this one hasn't quite cracked the Top Ten, but there's still time: Both the Drudge Report and ABC's Jake Tapper, not to mention quite a few bloggers, have now commented on this audio excerpt of Hillary Clinton's speech at yesterday's "Bloody Sunday" commemoration, during which she slips into a pronounced drawl, particularly while quoting the lyrics to the gospel hymn "I Don't Feel Noways Tired." The clip is 27 seconds long, and I don't hear anything odd in the last 20 or so seconds, but in the first few she really does sound Southern fried.

Does that make her a phony? Well, before you answer, read this from Garry Wills's review of her memoir, which was published in The New York Review of Books back in 2003. Wills has spent time with Hillary (which didn't prevent him from panning the book):

... The book recounts ... how a woman preacher about to be put in a mental home in a small Arkansas town was defended by Ms. Clinton as part of her pro bono work while she was teaching at Arkansas University. I heard her reminisce about that event with her fellow faculty member Diane Blair, and all the vivid details they traded back and forth are leached from the bare-bones account in the book.... When she went to see the judge who was about to commit the woman, she slipped into his Southern drawl.... When she went to see the black woman in the jail where she was being held, she imitated her. Ms. Clinton is a natural mimic and raconteur, who automatically "does the voices" when telling a story -- a thing that got her into trouble on the Sixty Minutes appearance she made with Mr. Clinton to answer questions about Gennifer Flowers. She went into a Tammy Wynette accent when she said she was not "some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette."

Wills says a friend of Hillary's said she "started checking her spontaneity" after being criticized for that TV appearance -- but I guess it comes back sometimes.

It seems to me that whatever you think of this, you can't call it phony; I'd say it's just the opposite -- Hillary actually being herself.

(Via Media Matters.)

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