Column/Drawl not a bad thing fro Hillary

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2007

There’s been a lot of hoopla made about U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., picking up a Southern drawl during her trip to Selma this past Sunday.

Some 24-hour cable news stations have shown comparisons of Clinton speaking in front of Congress, then speaking at First Baptist Church in Selma.

Certainly, she took on an accent when talking to the Alabama crowd, it’s pretty obvious when watching the footage.

Email newsletter signup

But, none of The Selma Times-Journal staff who were in the church on Sunday noticed the dialect change at the time of the speech.

Clinton’s use of a Southern accent doesn’t bother me in the least. First of all, what politician doesn’t use the tools at their disposal to better their delivery.

For example, former President Bill Clinton, who was born in Hope, Ark., has a natural Southern accent. It comes out when he’s talking to “the folks.”

But, surely he dropped the drawl when speaking to heads of state, or addressing the United Nations.

Don’t get offended by that observation. After all, I could be wrong, but even if I’m not, what’s the harm?

We all try to present ourselves in the best possible light that the situation calls for.

Speaking for myself, I’m glad to see (or hear) Hillary use a little twang in her voice.

I’ve mentioned before that when I travel to other states (particularly the Northeast), people immediately respond when I start talking.

And I don’t think my accent is that Southern.

Yet, most of the time a barrier goes up right away if people perceive you are from the South.

Here’s the typical conversation.

Northeasterner: “Where are you from?”

Me: “Alabama.”

Northeasterner: “I don’t know how anyone can live down there?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Northeasterner: “You know, the black, white issue.”

Me: Blank face.

Northeasterner: “You know, the racism.”

Me: “Are you kidding? Aren’t you from Boston. You telling me y’all don’t have race issues there?”

Generally, I take offense when someone reacts negatively to my Southern accent.

Once it happened in Montana and it was pretty much the same conversation except it ended with my comment – something about how Native Americans are treated.

So, I’m happy Hillary took on the drawl. Whether you like her or not, she’s obviously a very intelligent woman.

And she doesn’t mind taking on an accent when she talks to “the folks.”

I have no idea what this says about the state of American politics. Or the campaign. Or whether U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., or Clinton were better received during their visit to Selma.

In all honesty, it seems like much ado about nothing. Or, in this case, much to do about nothin’.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.