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Couldn't you just do the same thing with the first names that you normally do with nouns vs. pronouns? So, like, call her Hillary Clinton the first time you mention her, then refer to her just as Clinton until you mention Bill Clinton, then refer to him as Clinton until you mention Hillary Clinton, then... and you get the idea. Maybe that'd be klunky in practice?

Posted by Horace | July 10, 2007 3:34 PM

Why don't you just call them both Billary?

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 10, 2007 3:38 PM

What's wrong with Mrs. Clinton?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 10, 2007 3:39 PM

Or you could call her VP Clinton.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 10, 2007 3:41 PM

@3: We tend not to use honorifics. So if we used "Mrs. Clinton" we might end up with a sentence that included "Mrs. Clinton" and "Edwards" and "Obama" — which would look weird.

Put another way: We don't say "Mr. Edwards" and "Mr. Obama." Why make an exception for her and say "Mrs. Clinton"?

Posted by Eli Sanders | July 10, 2007 3:49 PM

One's Cock, the other is Cocksucker.

Problem solved.

Posted by seattle98104 | July 10, 2007 3:51 PM

H. Clinton?

Poe stole my joke.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 10, 2007 3:51 PM

You could use "she-Clinton" and "he-Clinton"...

Posted by Trey | July 10, 2007 3:58 PM

I'm betting on HRC and WJC. That's chatty, informal but not rude, and consistent.

Posted by S | July 10, 2007 4:08 PM

You could say Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton at the first mention. Then thereafter refer to them both by their first names, Bill and Hillary. That way if anyone considers it a diminutive, at least they are both equal, and you can't be accused of treating one of them differently. That works if the article is mostly about the two of them, not so much if it is part of a broader article including other candidates.

Alternately, you could differentiate like the Bush presidents, referring to Bill Clinton as "Clinton 42", and Hillary Clinton as "Clinton 44 wannabe". :-)

Posted by SDA in SEA | July 10, 2007 4:14 PM

How about Romanizing the name Clinton using the correct gender?

WJC = Clintonus

HRC = Clintona

This would have the added benefit of sounding appropriately imperial and dynastic and all…

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 10, 2007 4:31 PM

a Facebook friend of mine back east thinks we should have Paris Hilton for Pres and Tori Spelling for VP.

I think the other way around would be better.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 10, 2007 4:47 PM

Will, I'd support either ticket as long as Nicole Richie will serve as Secretary of State!

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 10, 2007 4:53 PM

Bill is just emeritus these days. "Clinton" means Hillary. Use "Clinton" for her and "Bill" for him. She's the subject; he's just the PR guy.

Posted by Fnarf | July 10, 2007 5:08 PM

And we all know how much he likes his "public relations"...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 10, 2007 5:11 PM

@9: I really like HRC, but I can't help but see Human Rights Campaign every time I read it.

@14: Agreed. I like "Clinton" and "Bill."

Posted by Christin | July 10, 2007 5:17 PM

Honestly, I don't see any problem with just calling her Hillary. That's how we've known her for years. It's not sexist, just simple.

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 10, 2007 5:18 PM

I think #14 is on-track, however, perhaps you underestimate your reader? If the article is about Hillary Clinton, do what you'd normally do: Just use her last name. When Bill Clinton comes up, just use President Clinton or former President Clinton or Bill Clinton or Mr. Clinton. Or be formal for a change.

The article is about Hillary Clinton so if Bill is only mentioned briefly, this should be easy. No need to dumb it down to the casual "Hillary", (which sounds like a sloppy work-around, IMO.)

Lastly, there are many women out there who came into political positions after their husbands where previously in that position. (Sonny Bono's wife, the wife of that poor guy in Missouri who died and beat John Ashcroft anyway, Benazir Bhutto, etc.) How have those reporters handled it?

Posted by no | July 10, 2007 5:46 PM

just one of the unforseen pitfalls of the ascendency of women in america...

Posted by longball | July 10, 2007 6:42 PM
I could use the construction that her campaign seems to like and just call her “Hillary.” But there’s a sense here that this sounds demeaning, even if “Hillary” likes to be called “Hillary.”

Nanny state-ish much? She's a grown woman. She can decide for herself what appellation is or is not demeaning.

Posted by lostboy | July 10, 2007 7:06 PM

We will all hold our collective breath until tomorrow, but I'm guessing you're gonna reveal that Hillary's never visited a lesbo bar even though - well that's enough titillation for now. One can only imagine the angst you would experience if Sir Edmund Hillary were running for president.

Posted by KENTUCKY KERNEL OF TRUTH | July 10, 2007 7:09 PM
just one of the unforseen pitfalls of the ascendency of women in america...

You mean, just one of the unforeseen pitfalls of the practice of women taking their husbands' names for the purpose of indicating ownership.

Posted by jamier | July 10, 2007 7:53 PM

Oh, just shut the fuck up and just call her Hillary. It honestly doesn't fucking matter. You're being foolish.

Posted by Gomez | July 11, 2007 12:14 AM

And you're being bossy. Hmph.

Calling her "Hillary" seems faux-familiar and trying-to-be cute.

Even if the Stranger doesn't use honorifics, maybe for this one they should.

Now I know why the NY Times uses "Mr. Obama" and "Ms. Clinton", etc.

Posted by hey | July 11, 2007 12:39 AM

May all your problems be this stupid.Perhaps you can get a job working for Bush.

Posted by Tiny Ballerina | July 11, 2007 6:05 AM

I like 18's solution. This is the protocol for other politicians ... reporters discuss them by their surname, and their spouses (usually with no active political standing) by their honorific + surname.

The problem with "Mrs" is that it emphasizes the woman's identity as defined by her husband, while "Mr" is a simple appellation. So "Mrs" wouldn't fit so well in an article that focuses on Hillary Clinton as a politician, not a wife.

(What I really love is how often newspapers describe a woman as "his neighbour's wife" rather than just "his neighbour.")

Come on, semantics is fun!

Posted by Gloria | July 11, 2007 6:06 AM

What happened to the days of her hyphenated name? Rodham-Clinton. She may not actively use it, but it's still "respectful" enough.

Posted by ica | July 11, 2007 1:48 PM

whaddabout mrs. clinton? really ain't a big deal.

Posted by miles | July 18, 2007 6:15 PM

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