Monday, July 20, 2009

A Virginian Who Sounds Like a Virginian

Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds (left) and his favorite editor at this a.m.'s press conference^

It hadn't occurred to me until this morning while he was talking about his proposed programs, but Creigh Deeds has something we haven't heard in a while among candidates for governor: a Virginia accent. Soft, easy, distinct.

Former Gov. George Allen seemed to have one, but you have to remember that he grew up in California--born in Whittier, Richard Nixon's hometown--and my guess is he made it up (like George Bush's "ranch").

Mark Warner's from Northern Virginia (born in Indianapolis and grew up in Connecticut) and has no discernible accent. Tim Kaine could be from anywhere, but he's from St. Paul, Minnesota and he went to the University of Missouri and Harvard.

Kaine's father-in-law, Gov. Linwood Holton, had a Virginia accent that you could nail down to the street he lived on in the far southwestern corner of the state. Few others of recent vintage have had that. Certainly not Gerald Baliles, an urbane lawyer, who was born in Stuart, but who'da thunk it?

My wife's all-time favorite, Jim Gilmore, a Richmond native, sounds like a movie version of a Southern politician, which is mostly fake--though I think he really does talk that way, even at home. (And if you believe Christina loves JG, let me interest you in a slightly used 1989 Alfa Romeo convertible with very low mileage ...)

Creigh Deeds' opponent, Bob McDonnell, is a military guy and sounds like it (he was born in Philly). Many influences, none dominant. Our congressmen from this area, Bob Goodlatte and Rick Boucher, don't sound like us (well, you; I'm from North Carolina), either. Bob's from Connecticut and Boucher, though from Abingdon, sounds like a 1940s radio show.

Sen. Jim Webb is from St. Joseph, Mo. (and has family from far Southwest Virginia), but he was a military guy who became a writer and his accent tells you nothing.

All this gets to the crucial point of the election: If you're gonna vote at all, vote for a Virginian. Or don't. Whatever.

(Note: The late--in office--but not very lamented Virgil Goode is missing from this list for one very, very good reason: who in the hell would ever suggest that his exaggerated, rube-like accent is typical of Virginia? That'd get you shot in most mixed company.)

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