Thursday, April 26, 2007

She's a senator, damn it!

Did anyone else watch the Democratic debate tonight? Did anyone else watch Larry King afterward and notice that Senator Clinton is "Hillary" while everyone else--all the men--are Senator So-and-So and Governor That?

The one time she was given a title, it was "Mrs."

The only other candidate whose title was omitted...Barack Obama. But at least his full name was used.


TKP said...

Why are you asking me for a job. Didn't the GST send you a fruit basket or something?

Anonymous said...

I'm so pissed I missed the debate. I rushed home to record it at seven. Stinking eastern time zone. You people think you own the world don't you?

JTB said...

Brent says he thinks you can watch it online. I actually only saw the tail end of it myself and then all the Larry King stuff.

Carolyn said...

This really bugs me. It's disrespectful to refer to her by her first name, rather than Senator Clinton. Hopefully the news media will catch on and start referring to her appropriately. I watched the debate last night (thought not the commetary afterwards) and thought she came off the best out of the bunch.

Steven Baird said...


While my first inclination is to be upset, maybe it's a good thing. Maybe instead of disrespect it's a sign of familiarity. Senator Clinton and Barack Obama are obviously the most liked and the most well-known of the Democrat hopefuls. I realize that Senator Clinton is the proper name, but I would imagine that in conversation with your friends you refer to her as Hillary. I know that I do. I'm not meaning any disrespect towards her, just like I mean no respect for "Barack" or "Obama" as I like to call him. Obviously in a professional situation it is inappropriate, but perhaps Larry King gave away something by accident. He gave away the fact that many Americans are comfortable enough with Senator Clinton to call her by her first name, and that may bode well for her.

JTB said...

Steven--Brent made much the same point while I was fuming about it in media res. I can see it, and maybe it's even an advantage to be on a first-name basis with the public, but I think that it would be entirely possible for the campaign to capitalize on that while still referring to her as "Senator Clinton" when on camera--as her campaign manager did not do--thereby making it all the easier for the pundits to also omit the title. I mean, you want people to think both, right--she's first-name-basis Hillary but she is also at the same time oh-so-competent-and-accomplished Senator Clinton. So you emphasize one or the other depending on context. In this context, when she's in a bunch of other senators and governors, if I were campaign manager I would emphasize her titular equality.

*K* said...

I agree that the title should have been used. Familiarity is important, but so is being recognized as an authority with years of experience. Maybe if both had been used the problem wouldn't be there... but, we didn't hear any of the other candidates saying... 'oh, please call me by my first name...'

we haven't watched the debate yet, but i am sure, knowing my husband's political obsession, it is on the 'to do list.'

Hilary said...

i would not be at all surprised if those titles/lack there of were specific requests from the candidates' camps. if you notice, hillary is ALWAYS "hillary" ... no clinton, presumably an attempt to distance herself from her husband, his coat-tails, etc. and barak is almost always "barack obama" not "senator" i'd guess an attempt to keep him more relatable, someone we feel like is one of us, not caught up in the boy's club of washington.

JTB said...

That's a really interesting comment--to consider this as a deliberate spurning of the patriarchy/hierarchy of the white-male dominated and defined political arena, a sort of creation of alternate political space.

I guess whether or not that is so depends on who's initiating the omission of titles--which may be impossible for us mere mortals to divine. Also it seems to me like it's possible for Obama to attempt this redefinition by eschewing titles in a way that it isn't for Senator Clinton (aka Hillary) because of gender. For some reason, my intuition is that (at least in this situation) a woman needs to be able to enter the male-defined space and succeed there before attempting the kind of transformation of it suggested above. Because Obama is male, that first preliminary step is unnecessary--he can drop the title because the title is more likely to be recognized and used to begin with.

Justin Burton said...

It seems that if her campaign manager is calling her Hillary, it's probably her campaign's strategy. I agree, JTB, that this might be a premature step for a woman operating in a sometimes depressingly manly world.

I tend to call her Hillary because I don't like using titles where I don't have to; Dodd is Dodd, Obama Obama, and Edwards Edwards. I feel bad calling her Hillary sometimes because I do it to delineate between her and Bill, who I call Clinton. He gets the last name because he was there first; he was there first because he's the man. Blah.

I would enjoy a non-formal alternative to 'Hillary.' Maybe Rodham or Rodham-Clinton. Or, maybe I can call her Clinton and Bill Bill. Suggestions?

By the way, watching the debate is on the to-do list, and, for those who care, it's available in the following places:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V