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Why Hillary Drops Her Final "g"s

Why isn’t it noticed, or, if noticed, not commented upon? At least in her Ohio and Texas talks, Hillary Clinton drops the final "G" from the "ing" words (participles, gerunds)--an annoyance, especially to those who’ve heard her talking to other people and groups where not one "G" is dropped and she sounds like the young woman who gave a famous Wellesley College commencement address, was one of America’s 100 most successful lawyers, was first lady of Arkansas and the United States, and has been a successful U.S. senator from New York State for eight years.

Of course, it’s clear that Hillary wants to sound more like the audience of "ordinary" people she’s pumpin’ for votes. Most of us act and talk somewhat differently with the grocer than our colleagues, but it’s unusual for politicians to be so conspicuously different as Hillary is before audiences.

Changing your political position is considered a no-no for politicians; Hilary has been fairly successful explaining such changes. The "G"-dropping, though, points to something else in this amazingly successful woman’s life: It recalls the fuss made out of her changes of hairdo in her First Lady years and her marital juggling in the Hillary-humiliation time of Monica Lewinsky. (By the way, how is it that no comedian has suggested that the now famous 3:00 a.m. phone call to the White House came from Monica?) Many women who know that they don other selves in front of their husband’s colleagues, hunting, and poker buddies understand and sympathize with Hillary’s adaptations and alterations.

Those who have seen Hillary on Saturday Night Live or heard her mocking version of Obama’s speeches see that she has histrionic gifts. ( "Give her an "A’ for presentation," was Obama’s response to the mockery.) More women than men will understand and sympathize with what lies behind Hillary’s accommodations and acting, behind the dropped "G"s and the changed hair dos. Many--
most?--men will be annoyed by them, and by the shift from straight talk to strident proclamation. ("I’m a fighter;" "I’ve been tested;" I know, I’ve seen, I’ve been, I’ve done, I-I-I-I-I-I-I.) La donna e mobile was the seducer duke’s lyric justification for his erotic mobility; cosi fan tutte is the not-so-long outmoded Mozart-Da Ponte view of women that many--most?--women, with and without university degrees, have personally confronted.

When did it start for Hillary Diana Rodham? Was it when she began undercutting her father’s Republican shibboleths? Did her 92-page BA thesis on Saul Alinsky embody the early changes, masked there by a "nuanced" academic style?

Five years she kept the courting Bill Clinton on her string, deciding to marry him (after, not necessarily because) she’d failed the Washington, D.C. bar exam and passed the Arkansas one.

That this woman, distinguished as remarkably able since her 20th year--and by no one more than the husband who in Little Rock and Washington appointed her to important roles and who now campaigns for her with heart-rocking energy--feels that she has to jump through the hoops of dropping "G"s arouses as much pity as disgust.

--Richard Stern