Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brouhaha Over Hillary's Laugh (Pun Intended)


The sound of Hillary’s laughter, accompanied by urgent analyses thereof, has since been echoing from the tar pits of the Internet to the lofty peaks of the major mainstream media. It began with surprising amiability, on none other than “Fox News Sunday,” just after that program’s contribution to the Ginsburg. Chatting with the interviewer, Chris Wallace, about the way Clinton had burst out laughing at the opening question (which was about why she has “a hyper-partisan view of politics”), Wallace’s colleague Brit Hume remarked that her laugh “is always disarming, always engaging, and always attractive.”

By midafternoon, the Republican National Committee had rushed out a corrective to Hume’s lapse into graciousness: an electronic “research briefing” titled “Hillary: No Laughing Matter.” It was studded with subheads like “When Asked Whether Her Plan Is a Step Toward Socialized Medicine, Hillary Giggles Uncontrollably” and festooned with video clips of the former First Lady engaged in giggle-related activities. From then on, the commentary alternated between judgments of the quality of the candidate’s laughter and assessments of its hidden meaning. . . .

(As Jon Stewart, the well-known humor expert, noted in the course of his own riff on the Clinton laugh situation, being called hyper-partisan by Fox News is, to borrow his word, “funny.”) Hillary’s laugh is unusually uninhibited for a politician—especially, perhaps, for a female politician. It is indeed a belly laugh, if not a “big belly” laugh, and it compares favorably with the incumbent Presidential laugh, a series of rapid “heh-hehs,” at once threatening and insipid, accompanied by an exaggerated, arrhythmic bouncing of head and shoulders in opposite directions. . . .

(From The New Yorker.)

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