I'm replaying "This Week" and John Kerry's pompous, droning cadences have already put J to sleep. I can't help tuning out. Thank God this man did not become President and isn't trying again -- having to listen to his voice day in and day out would have caused national brain damage.
How people sound -- a prospective leader's or lover's voice, cadence, timbre -- is an underrated, almost subliminal aspect of how they appeal or repel, and above all, how they reveal themselves. I don't much like listening to Bush, either, and not because of his tongue-tangles and malapropisms. It's his faux-folksy, oilman-of-the-people accent, and the way he almost pants in his effort to project earnestness and sincerity, which always makes me picture big cartoon sweat drops flying from his head. Bill Clinton's voice is husky, cozy, get-next-to-you intimate -- a seducer's or con artist's voice. I can't quite put my finger on the quality Hillary's voice projects -- hard? -- but her voice is one of the most unpleasant things about her. Obama, when he's "on," sounds stripped-down, forceful, and brusque, impatient to sweep away the whole self-indulgent baby-boomer mess. John Edwards sounds like a plausive lawyer winning over a jury. [Isn't that a great word, "plausive"? I got it here.] Rudy Giuliani's voice, with its New York accent and little lisp, transmits a working-class humility and humor. Despite his expensive suits, he sounds like a fire chief. I close my eyes to hear McCain's soft-spoken voice and the first word that springs to mind -- surprising me! -- is "wily."
Mike Huckabee sounds pretty damn good, especially when he surges to life talking about his passion for music and for his faith. There's real zest and joy in his voice then. He has a folksiness that sounds natural and unaffected. (And of course what he's saying, real live maverick compassionate conservatism, sounds good too -- "My pro-life position doesn't end at the birth canal" -- but that's not my subject here.) Unfortunately, at moments when he looks nervous -- eyes darting aside, licking his lips -- there flits through his face a faint and fleeting resemblance to Richard Nixon.
(But just think of the bumper stickers -- "I Heart Huckabee"...)
[Welcome, Huckabee supporters! You might be interested in my take on abortion.]