December 28, 2007

How dare you talk about Hillary's voice for an entire minute!

Greg Sergent is disgusted that a minute was spent analyzing a campaign ad on "Hardball" last night. The commentators found it notable that the ad excluded Hillary's voice, which they speculated people are tired of hearing.

Sergent makes the don't-you-have-anything-better-to-do argument that I think needs to be recognized as nonsubstantive and trite. To Sergent's credit, he admits at the top of his post that it's a cheap shot and he's desperate. Anyway, start noticing this argument, and you'll see it's used all the time and get annoyed — as I am — by how desperate it is. It's really no different from saying I hate what you're saying or shut up, but it has this moral edge to it, as if you're neglecting some pressing obligations. The really rude way to put it is: Get a life. That is, you are not even a member of the human race if you are paying attention to this. You do not exist.

And let me add that it is worth analyzing the campaign commercials — even on the day Benazir Bhutto died.


Unknown said...

I missed Hardball's analysis of Hillary's horrible harridan-worthy voice but do agree Hillary's voice and the way she shrieks through her more impassioned speeches is worthy of Hardball's comment. However, more attention should be paid to THE CONTENT of Hillary's speeches---lots of ummmmms and platitudes. For soaring oration listen to Obama--not so much in the debates but on the stump. Obama shines when he speaks. Hillary makes me want to mute the sound.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, start noticing this argument, and you'll see it's used all the time...

Me, I first saw this argument broadly exploited in 1992 when Bill and his minions used it in various ways as a part of his winning formula (think bimbos, draft dodging, pot inhaling, etc.). Thus, it's really not a big surprise that Hillary likewise still has the arrow in her quiver.

The "desperation" component you mention extends way beyond desperation per se, to include those merely desperate to change the subject at any given moment.

At any rate, it's an encouraging thing to see people who were once suckered by it finally seeing how annoying it is.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Perhaps, Hardball policy wonks should ask such questions to HRC:

1. Why did your husband, Mr. Clinton, repeatedly call the Register editors to support your candidacy? Why did he apply pressure as a former president? Why did he claim that your experience is right for the nation (yet your records are not accessible to the voters)?

2. What exactly are you proud of in your service as a senator from NY? What is your most accomplished policy that you yourself have initiated? (Please do not mention policy where you simply joined as a co-sponsor, after polls showed that the policy was right for America.)

3. As a spousal beneficiary, what do you think of people who have to climb to the top on their own? For instance, Mr. Obama took a risk to become a community organizer (around $10K annual salary) after his Columbia degree. What did you take risk after you graduated from Yale (or Wellesley)?

From Inwood said...

Two Hillary Campaign Gurus:

HCG # 1: “Hillary has at last found her voice.”
HGC # 2: “Say it isn’t so.”

Remember “Singing In The Rain” where they have Debbie Reynolds behind the curtain singing for Jean Hagen? Just a thought.

Hillary at least listened to Naomi Wolf’s alpha-male concept. Hill’s trying to be the alpha-est of them all.

TJ said...

Kind of a big leap from "I hate what you're saying" to "You're not human." I get that you're annoyed because you like to talk about things like Clinton's voice, but come on: "You don't exist"?

A little hyperbolic, don't you think?

From Inwood said...

Hill's camp has desperation per spiration .

Unknown said...

You are being dishonest by characterizing Sergent as "desperate." He said these are desperate times, not that he himself is desperate.

Surely you are not unaware of the distinction. You're simply being dishonest to score a point against someone you consider an ideological enemy, and therefore someone you feel free to lie about and misrepresent.

Trooper York said...

Many first ladies were known to have extremely annoying speaking voices. Bess Truman often sounded like Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffith Show after one too many gin fizzes. A low querulous passive aggressive tone that led Harry to go downstairs to drink and play cards with his cronies. Mamie Eisenhower had a drunken slur that was almost indecipherable. Jackie Kennedy had a faux little girl whisper that pissed off Jack so much that he had to stick it in anything up to and including the light socket. But by far the worst was of course Eleanor Roosevelt due to her unfortunate dental situation. Her loud and braying tone whistled through her enormous teeth like the wind before a tornado. As noted liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. reported “Listening to Eleanor was like listening to a chipmonk being strangled. But the worst when she was exicted. In fact it was reported that when she was behind closed doors with her close personal friend Lorena Hickok, a high pitched squealing noise echoed through the White House. It was so loud and frightening that is was often mistaken for an air raid siren and caused countless false alarms, until the joint chiefs ordered that Mrs. Roosevelt’s day room by sound proofed.”
(Eleanor and Franklin; An Oral History, Doris Kearns Goodwin)

TJ said...

"as if you're neglecting some pressing obligations"

Well, we know by now that you're not under any obligations. But I would argue that members of the press with national exposure and a platform to educate the public and raise the level of the conversation up from Bill Clinton's wang or Edwards' hair or Hillary Clinton's cleavage are under an obligation.

When Matthews,et al wallow in muck or present misogyny as speculation, they are neglecting an obligation, one enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution. Seriously, what public good is that Hardball clip actually serving? Is it really creating the kind of informed electorate for which the press is protected? What kind of watchdog just pisses on your shoes?

Laura Reynolds said...

Wow Verso, your willingness to split lint hairs to make a lame attempt at accusing Ann of being dishonest, renders it laughable.

I can appreciate someone being a jerk, but your trying to be a smart ass jerk and your aren't doing a good job. Try harder and if you find you are not capable of using more intellect (which is likely) than stick to just being a jerk.

Ann Althouse said...

verso said..."You are being dishonest by characterizing Sergent as "desperate." He said these are desperate times, not that he himself is desperate. Surely you are not unaware of the distinction. You're simply being dishonest to score a point against someone you consider an ideological enemy, and therefore someone you feel free to lie about and misrepresent."

No, you are wrong. He said: "Okay, I'm going to do something that's admittedly a bit of a cheap shot. But desperate times, desperate measures, and all that."

The last sentence is a reference to the common expression "Desperate times call for desperate measures." He admitted he was about to take a "cheap shot," a "desperate measure." How is that not saying he's desperate? He'd have to mean: I think desperate measures are called for and I am about to take them, yet I am actually not myself desperate.

Clearly, you owe an apology.

Ann Althouse said...

trevor jackson said..."Kind of a big leap from "I hate what you're saying" to "You're not human." I get that you're annoyed because you like to talk about things like Clinton's voice, but come on: "You don't exist"? A little hyperbolic, don't you think?"

Reread. I'm talking about the expression "Get a life," which pretty directly says you do not currently have a life, ie, you are not a person.

Cedarford said...

Verso - instead of just analyzing the moderator's comments, why not go past your snarky pseudo-intellectual crack to discuss the general truth that a politician that people hate listening to is a politician losing support or vulnerable to a good up 'n coming orator.

The truth is Hillary's voice and laugh grate on people. Hence the rise of a silver-tongued 1-year in national office Senator talking in drivel and banalities. Or on the Republican side, the Huckster's rise, honed by years of sermons and 7 years as the PR guy to a televangelist.

Or that even someone with a decent ability once to communicate well who then lost it (Bush II from being a superb speaker as governor or running against Richards - to the tic-mannerismed stumbling word-butcher of today that people from conservatives to liberals hit "mute" when he comes on TV).

Communications are core to being a successful candidate. The ability to connect.

Look at the fate of one guy with a golden resume` who managed to come across as an incoherent idiot at debates..Oh, Gravel and Keyes too, but I was thinking Richardson.

Trooper York said...

There has been a long tradition of speculation as to which of the First Ladies were the most demonstrative in the boudoir. The source of this information has come from the White House Chief Ushers who get all of the gossip as to the activities of the First Family. Dolley Madison, Jackie Kennedy and Sarah Polk were known to moan and babble in French when doing the deed. Nancy Reagan was known as a screamer and Rosalyn Carter would recite the Lords Prayer at the top of her lungs. The Clintons were a very different kettle of fish. President Clinton was known to have had sex in various parts of the White House with various partners, but the staff could never definitively point to any time that the first couple actually had sex with each other. The gossip among the staff was the only time in their eight years of residence that was remotely sexual was after the Monica Lewinsky affair first became public. The Clintons sat at opposite ends of the second floor balcony and occasionally Hillary would turn to her husband and screech “Fuck you Bill.” Mr. Clinton would reply: “Fuck you Hillary.” When her maid asked Mrs. Clinton what was going on, Hillary replied “That’s my version of oral sex.” Something told me that was not the definition that Mr. Clinton was parsing.
(Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, J.B. West)

TJ said...

"I'm talking about the expression 'Get a life,' which pretty directly says you do not currently have a life, ie, you are not a person."

And when I say "Earth to Althouse" I really think you're in outer space, floating above the planet, ie, not forming arguments that are grounded in reason.

Ann Althouse said...

Trevor, you're an asshole.

Do you think that's an insult? Is it an insult because I think you are literally an asshole? The subject is what is the image, what is the content of an insult? I could say you are a piece of shit and you would be right to get angry because of what it literally means even though no one thinks the speaker believes it literally. This is how insults work. You're a nitwit if you don't understand.

TJ said...

Wow, did I hit a nerve. I was trying to point out that your train of thought from "I hate what you say" to "You do not exist" required some big leaps.

You put a strawman of a metaphor in Sargent's mouth (and others who would argue that there are more important things to talk about in the election) and then chose to interpret it literally to mean Sargent (or others) doesn't think you exist because you want to talk about Clinton's voice.

First, I called it out as hyperbole and you weakly nitpick rather than admit you put words in Sargent's mouth to reach your conclusion. I respond with a pretty mild and admittedly unoriginal joke and you flip out and call me an asshole.

As you like to say: You owe me an apology.

rhhardin said...

listening to a chipmonk being strangled

Church mice are at the other end of the scale.

I'm Full of Soup said...


Are you denying Hillary's campaign made a decision to run ads without her voice?

Do you agree her campaign has hung their hat on the word "Change"?

Do you disagree that her camoaign seems to be uber-driven by polls?

If not, why did her campaign drop the "experience" theme and shift to the current "change" theme?

At least, the MSM is now discussing the candidates' traits including experience, honesty, integrity, and yes the tone and sound of their voices. It sure beats discussing which candidate has the most money in their campaign bank acounts.

PatCA said...

I think it's interesting that the mass media is pretty critical of Hillary and not shy about saying so. Is she too much Bush-lite, or they just see her as not qualified?

Either way, they are giving the nomination to Obama, which might be exactly what the Republicans are hoping for. They're "Nader"-ing Hillary!

John Stodder said...

Here's the thing. "Hardball," a show I used to like but don't watch much now, is ostensibly about political tactics. It wanders from its mission, but the basic value-add Chris Matthews provides is that he used to work with some pretty tough political operatives, and so he's going to explain to us why certain political events happen, what is going through the minds of the people who plan them.

For Matthews, the subject of political ads is right in his sweet spot. If an ad for a candidate avoids using the candidate's voice, that's a noteworthy event on Matthews' beat. It might be a waste of time for a pure public affairs show to go into it, but for Matthews, it's his bread and butter.

Sargent would not be making this point unless it served his partisan purposes. The left blogosphere hates Matthews, as do the Clintonistas. He is one slip of the tongue away from a Media Matters for America campaign to drive him off the air. People with that mindset think you judge a cheap shot by who it's aimed against. It's a cheap shot if you talk about Hillary's annoying voice. It's not a cheap shot if you talk about Giuliani's lisp.

What's really cheap about Sargent's post is his implication that the Matthews segment somehow stole airtime from the Bhutto assassination. The clip was from a show prior to Bhutto's killing, but he leaves the impression it wasn't.

rhhardin said...

Speaking of change

Dice Thrown Never Will Annul Change A Translation by Brian Coffey of Un Coup De Des Jamais N'Abolira le Hasard

Coffey, Brian & Mallarme, Stephane

Bookseller: Dublin Bookbrowsers
Price: £ 48.71
Shipping within Ireland

Trooper York said...

Hillary was known to have a very troubled relationship with the White House Staff. The first lady I ever worked with was Lady Bird Johnson who was a sweet and gracious lady. Roslyn Carter was also a joy to deal with as she always showed concern for the staff and marines who served the first family. But Mrs. Clinton was very different. She insisted that no one look her in the eye when she walked through the halls. In fact for the last three years of her tenure when the housekeeper staff was in the hall when Mrs. Clinton passed, they were required to stop what they were doing and face the wall. President Clinton was much more of a people person, but he thought that this was a good policy. His only innovation was to add the rule that when he passed and the staff faced the wall, they had to lift up their dresses so he could see their underwear.
(Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, J.B. West)

rhhardin said...

Obama shines when he speaks.

That's the clean and articulate thing that impressed Biden.

So unusual in a black man, he thought. Usually you get not clean or not articulate.

I wonder what fraction of the population thinks instead, as I do, What empty drivel. Probably around 50%.

Hillary doesn't have empty drivel so much as keywords that bob to the surface.

Brent said...

john stodder,

once again, you have nailed the most salient parts of the issue.

wish you had a daily blog or email with your recap of the political scene.

(caps and shift buttons are not working on this keyboard for some reason)