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Opening Arguments

The Breakfast Club

The right-wing cranks (of which I am an occasional member) are piling only on Hillary Clinton, but in truth both she and Barack Obama adopted Southern accents for their appearances in Selma (fascinating audio here). I'm inclined to go a little light on the pandering charges and cut the candidates some slack. I moved to Indiana from Kentucky when I was 12 and had a noticeable Appalachian accent. To this day, I am told, when I get excited or agitated or otherwise let my mouth get ahead of my brain, that accent makes an occasional reappearance. And whenever I visit Kentucky, I start sounding like a lifelong native after only a couple of days. It is possible that the stress of courting the black vote in the heart of the South took its toll on the candidates. After all, both have trouble being black --  Hillary is not Bill, the country's first black president, and Barack is still fighting the image of being Halfrican-American. So what's left for them but the accent?

But, seriously, folks.

Some have expressed concerns about the presidential race being so ubiquitous this early in the process. But I see great value in it. For one thing, as much as the campaign is waged in sound bites, it will take us a long time just to discover what the candidates' positions really are. For another, this will help us determine their characters -- how they face adversity, reversals, media scrutiny.

And even more important is the political equivalent of the breakfast-table test. Most of us, at least subconsciously, judge our potential life mates by how well we think we can stand seeing them and talking to them, day after day, year after year, across the breakfast table. We know that our initial passion, however strong it might be, will eventually give way to a calmer relationship of mutual respect and intellectual, emotional and spiritual compatibility. Over the long haul, we will have to simply like each other and enjoy each other's company.

Hillary fails that breakfast-table test. The more we know her, the crankier and more high-maintenance she seems. Barack passes it; he is someone we can imagine hanging out with for more than a date or two. Rudy Giuliani makes the cut, Mitt Romney is a maybe, John McCain not so much.

I'm not saying that's the primary criterion we should have when choosing a president, but it is one factor. Just imagine all those press conferences. Who will command our attention, day after day, year after year, making us at least consider what he or she says? Who will make us snatch up the TV remote and immediately switch to the Cartoon Network?


Tue, 03/06/2007 - 8:56am

Per usual, the right-wing cranks are making something out of nothing, and the so-called mainstream media are too lazy to double-check the facts: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/03/behold_your_med.php

tim zank
Tue, 03/06/2007 - 2:06pm

I don't care which side of the aisle you represent, if you slip into an African-American dialect (Obama) or a really cheesy southern drawl (whether or not your quoting a verse or a hymn) you sound "ridiculous" and it's truly embarassing to watch.

It's similar to when someone who is tone-deaf suddenly takes it upon himself to be the karaoke king. It just makes everyone really uncomfortable.

Bob Stackhouse
Tue, 03/06/2007 - 7:49pm

Perhaps alex could enlighten us as exactly what facts are contained on the liberal Horse's Mouth blog.

Wed, 03/07/2007 - 6:13am

Bob, perhaps you could click on it.

Tim, you are so right. You should only do those things if you're good at it, like the current commander-in-chief, a blueblooded Yankee who adopts the "nukular" vernacular because he thinks it ingratiates him with the hayseeds. Which, amazingly, it does. Seven years of it and they've never once complained that they're being condescended to. That's really something when you consider that Hillary only did it for a few seconds out of a big, long speech.

Matt Drudge really oughta give the hayseeds a nudge and let them know they're being offended by President Bush since they obviously aren't bright enough to figure it out for themselves.

tim zank
Thu, 03/08/2007 - 7:10am

Alex, that's clever, but absurd. W's inability to pronounce a whole host of words isn't an act. You guys need to make up your mind, either he's a stupid rube, or an evil genius depending upon your liberal moral outrage of the day.

What is it about the liberal mindset that causes the obvious to be obscured?

Just watch the video and admit it, she sounds ridiculous. No one has implied she advocates pitchforking kittens for Gods sake, she just sounds ridiculous.

Thu, 03/08/2007 - 10:47am

What have I missed. "Halfrican-American" is acceptable? You make me sick.

Leo Morris
Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:49am

Beats me. It has been frequently used, and I have no idea if it will end up being an accepted descriptive term or a pejorative. In the meantime, I merely note its presence without the judgment you have obviously already made. If you're going to be sick, please go someplace else to do it. I just cleaned the place up, and it's awfully hard to get good help these days. Take two Daily Kos and call me in the morning.

tim zank
Thu, 03/08/2007 - 12:48pm

Well said Sir, Touche'