On Hillary’s Yelling
This conversation comes in the context of an undeniable history and present of women being pushed to be passive and demure, and so complaints about a woman’s voice are certainly worth a double-check. In this case, though, I don’t think the criticism of Hillary’s yelling is sexist. I like Hillary okay. I think she’s smart and competent, albeit overly caught up in political calculations. She’s probably no worse than average in that, but she is worse at hiding it. She’s not a natural and it was smart of her to own that and make a virtue of it.
She makes a mistake though, when she tries to show feeling that isn’t there. It’s the same mistake Al Gore made in 2000. He was trying to overcome the perception that he was a stiff by getting louder and more gravelly (the clip here is from 2004, but you get the idea). It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. It’s not wrong because Hillary’s a woman. It’s wrong because she’s forcing it. Her crime isn’t being shrill, it’s being inauthentic, or at the very least, inartfully inauthentic.
It’s also a technical problem — she’s trying to project to the back of the crowd at a big noisy rally and forgetting that she’s talking into a microphone and so for the TV audience it’s coming off as grating, just like when Howard Dean tanked his campaign with the infamous scream.
The fair knock on all this talk about talk is that it’s shallow. But it’s not just Hillary’s critics who are distracting from substance with style, it’s Hillary herself.