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Sunday, July 31, 2016
Personal Reflections ... Politics ...

To follow up on my last post about voices and politics, let me comment on what I think about the voices of our two main Presidential candidates — in sum, I think that they are both horrible. Well, I always found Trump’s voice just as annoying as everything that he says. Actually, it might be the way that he uses his voice to say what’s on his mind — his inflections and tonal modulations just scream out “BIG BLOWHARD WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT”.

As to Hillary Clinton, her speech-voice is like fingernails on blackboards, amplified 1000 times. I know that a lot of other men don’t enjoy her angry, screechy tones, and that a lot of women and progressive men have written articles calling us sexists for our vocal preferences. Well, that may be true; but it still doesn’t make Hillary’s speeches any easier to listen to. The ironic thing is that I’m old enough to remember hearing Hillary speak (on TV or radio, I never saw her in person — I didn’t work for any of those big financial firms who paid her to talk), back when she was First Lady or Senator from New York. She seemed a lot easier to take back then. Even her 2008 primary campaign voice didn’t seem especially offensive.

I believe that Ms. Clinton has recently tried to keep up vocally with Bernie Sanders, who was trying to sell the notion of revolution in his campaign. And to be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy the “take to the streets” implications of Bernie’s voice. But I’m sorry — Hillary Clinton just can’t do Bolshevik revolutionary as well as Bernie can. You’d think that she could now calm down on the podium and take David Axelrod’s recent advice to her, i.e. “let the mic do the work”. But the “Big Blowhard” is closer in the polls to Hillary than he ought to be, and so she continues to address us as though we are in an emergency. (And yes, from that perspective, maybe she’s right.)

So just which politician’s voice do I like? Well, that’s not easy to say, I have to think about that one. I remember other Presidents whose voices I also didn’t like — Ronald Reagan’s voice was often irritating, although when he went full-actor mode and turned on the drama, it sometimes worked (e.g “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall”). George W. Bush’s twangy intonation was always a headache-causer. His father’s words were usually dull and lifeless. Obama gave great speeches, but there was something vaguely phony in his “down home” phrasings (an intellectual like Obama does NOT naturally speak like that — can you imagine him giving a Constitutional law lecture at Harvard in that tone?). Jimmy Carter’s southern drawl seemed to reflect sincerity, but at the same time uncertainty and perhaps ineptitude. And Richard Nixon? His voice could have been good, if he had good things to say and had he felt good about himself.

About the only President’s that I remember who had good voices and vocal patterns were John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (an old guy like me can never forget his standard opener, i.e. “My Fellow Americans . . . “). That’s going way back to the 1960’s. Given our present choices, it does not look like the 50-year presidential vocal drought will be broken any time soon!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 1:50 pm      
 
 


  1. Jim, For the most part, no! I think for every part, I agree with you here. Even I noticed Hillary’s voice has pushed up a notch.

    BUT I am sure I know why too. My mother used to say all the time (and oh, how right she was!): “I can’t get anybody to pay any attention to me unless I act like a ‘crazy woman’”. And here I should specify that by “attention” she meant (I knew from the context) she just could not get anybody to simply listen to anything she might say with “attention” and treat her as if she were actually a human being, instead of someone to be ignored mightily.

    And how many times in my own life have I heard those same words coming out of my own mouth: “Nobody pays any attention to me unless I act like a crazy woman!” I’ve said it a thousand times! I’m sure Hillary is saying those same words (or words that mean the same) currently even more than she’s said them in the past.

    Men do not want to admit it; but it’s true. It was true even from my own father who could not have been a more loving husband. Somehow women just don’t get listened to unless they “raise their voice a notch”. (I noticed ALL the women who spoke at the convention had that “up a notch” sound in their voice; they all knew the same thing.)

    So I agree with you that Hillary HAS upped her tone a notch (or 2 even); but I understand 100% why she finds it necessary. And while “let the mic do the work” certainly makes sense; it doesn’t when a woman is in front of it; and every woman KNOWS it. But a “Big Blowhard” also knows that if he stands in front of a mic all he has to do is quietly say “thank you” to the applause and all will quiet while they hear words of wisdom from his mouth (or perhaps NOT in the case of our present GOP nominee).

    BTW: I saw a picture of Donald Trump looking gratefully and fondly at “his” purple heart (the one given him by the man who was left standing at the end of the stage, almost behind the curtains) and saying “I always wanted one!” Seems Trump doesn’t have the graciousness to bring the man to center stage. Then too Trump doesn’t seem to know the difference between “having” a purple heart and “EARNING” one. I wonder: Would he give up 2 legs like Tammy Duckworth (running for senator in Illinois) did to “have” a purple heart? Somehow I think “Hell NO!” might be the answer.

    The editor in today’s Tribune asked the question: What would Trump do if Korea’s hot-headed ruler said something unfavorable to Trump and his hand was on the nuclear button (or whatever they have nowadays)? Then too, Trump claims to have been “viciously attacked” by the parents of the marine who gave up his life to save his fellow soldiers. A “vicious attack”? I’d say the “vicious attack” was the attack on the marine who died and another was from Trump on his parents. Yet people still listen to him AND hand over their purple hearts to him. Incredible. And if Hillary can get in office instead of Trump, I’ll gladly listen to her “up a notch” voice.

    I can’t help but excuse Hillary for upping her tone a notch; just can’t help excusing her. Women have to act like “crazy people” before anybody really gives heed to their words. MCS
    P.S. Hit a nerve here, Jim; sorry.

    Comment by Mary S. — August 3, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

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