The Young Folks Call It Country, The Yankees Call It Dumb


Chalk me up as a defender of the otherwise-odious Hillary Clinton for the moment. She's getting flack for adopting a Southern accent in her speech in Selma, Alabama, and it's undeserved. Says Glenn Thrush:

She does country-up her delivery in the south (especially on trips to her longtime home of Little Rock) and she does flatten her vowels mercilessly when she stumps in the Midwest. She also gets a little Jackie Mason in certain precincts of Brooklyn and Borschtland.

The point being made by Drudge and other Clinton haters is that her sudden Southern drawl is symptomatic of her dishonesty and duplicity. That dawg won't hunt. Everybody does it.

This is true. For example, I do it. I've returned from interviews with black or New York or Southern politicos and played back my tape, and been astounded by the change in my tone of voice from interview. As I talk to a Southerner I start to drawl and end the interview with some doggerel like "'pree-shade it." ("I appreciate it.") I get the feeling this is a thing most people do when they've entered a new situation and need to establish trust or affinity with a bunch of unfamiliar people.

So Clinton isn't being dishonest in trying on the Southern accent. She's simply not very good at it. I imagine her laborious attempts to nail the patois are making Democrats wonder if they want to present this candidate to voters every day for 20 more months.

UPDATE: It's called "code switching." Thank you, commenters!