The PJ Tatler

Hate the Sound of Hillary!'s Voice? You're Not Alone

Banshee screech, harridan howl, the hectoring tone of every man’s first wife — you know you can’t stand the sound of her:

You know Hillary Clinton’s voice, right? I mean, you know it. It’s just so loud and annoying. Or maybe it’s like a nagging wife. Or inauthentic—that phony Southern accent! Those flat Midwestern vowels! Whatever it is, her voice is burned into your brain.

A somewhat deceptive lede, since the story goes on and on at great length dissecting the “Bubbles vs. Bubbas” accents of various Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Rand Paul before landing as gently as possible (this is, after all, The New Republic) on Hillary!

That brings us to the over-scrutinized voice of Hillary Clinton. To pull one recent example, here’s a New York Times reporter analyzing Clinton’s presidential campaign announcement video last week: “It allows her to use her quieter-but-confident speaking voice, instead of the VOICE she uses at news conference and at rallies, when she sometimes SPEAKS SO LOUDLY in hopes of conveying ENERGY and FORCEFULNESS (rather than simply projecting her voice better).” Bloomberg Politics has broken down Clinton’s accent as it has changed since 1983, as she moved from Arkansas to Washington and spoke before different audiences. The reporter felt moved to assert three times that Clinton’s changing accent was not a sign of inauthenticity.

Ha ha ha ha ha! Right!

People who do not like that voice really do not like that laugh. Last June, National Journal compiled “The Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly With Reporters.” The same month, the Washington Free Beacon created “Hillary Clinton’s Interview Tour: A Laughing Matter | SuperCuts #70.” Here’s Jimmy Kimmel’s 2008 roundup of Clinton laughing, which a YouTuber has called the “Hillary Clinton laugh and cackle comedy compilation dvd.” Here’s “The Daily Show”‘s from 2007, featured on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” (National Review writer Jim Geraghty says, “Did anyone else’s eardrum just burst in pain after hearing that over and over again?”) The New York Times called it “the Clinton Cackle.”

“Laughter’s weird,” Nunberg says. “If you listen to somebody laughing it always sounds weird. Everybody’s laugh sounds insincere if you play it more than once.” Eckert’s view of Clinton’s laugh is a 180 from the media’s. “She has a real laugh. Whether it’s forced in those situations or not, she has a real laugh.” It’s not a girlish giggle. It’s not a chuckle, which for a politician is rare, she says. “There’s something very fresh about that laugh. She maybe be forcing herself to think that something is funny, but to me it’s a good laugh.” It’s like her clear, loud voice, Eckert says: “She’s putting herself out there. She is not softening anything for anybody.”

Not softening? You can say that again: