early and often

Hooo-ey! Cotton Eyed Bill Attacks Language, Again

CottonEyed Bill

Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: Hulton Archive/Getty Images (banjo player), WireImage (Clinton)

Has Bill Clinton accidentally drawn the national attention to the fact that his wife is, gasp, a woman? This is what the former president and possible First Laddie said yesterday about the Democratic candidates’ recent televised gang-up on Hillary: “Those boys have been getting tough on her lately.” They sure were, just as sure as they are all, in fact, boys and she is, in fact, a she. No controversy here, right? Wrong. “Mr. Clinton’s use of the word ‘boys,’” writes the Times, “caught the attention of the Republican National Committee … Barack Obama and John Edwards.” All three camps are now accusing the Clintons of trying to graft a war-of-the-sexes story line onto the argument.

Luckily, Bill Clinton knows how to deal with situations like this: by making his own words retroactively mean whatever he wants them to mean. (Forget the national discussion on whether unconsummated oral equals “sexual relations”; we’re talking “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”). So today, in one fell swoop and with a seemingly straight face, he managed to excise gender out of the word boy. It’s an Arkansas regionalism, he explained. “Boys” as in “Good Ol’,” not “Riding in Cars With.” “Boys” is Arkansonian for “people,” people!

Frankly, this is making us a bit misty-eyed. Dude’s still got it. (We’re talking about Hillary, of course. “Dude” is a totally gender-neutral term of affection in media-hipster circles.)

That Clinton Boy Defends His Wife and Raises Eyebrows [NYT]
Contemplating Clinton II [NYM]

Hooo-ey! Cotton Eyed Bill Attacks Language, Again