In December 2019, the world of politics as we knew it changed forever. Now, you must be wondering which significant event we are referring to. Well, we aren’t referring to a game-changing event but an instance that caught many people off-guard.
So, let’s revisit the Democratic presidential primary debate of December 2019. During the said debate, the now-president of the USA, Joe Biden, stuttered while speaking.
People watching from home had different reactions to the said moment. While some of them shrugged it off by thinking of it as a minor botch, others were quick to claim that Joe Biden was “losing it” and proceeded to ask their friends and peers, “Does Joe Biden have a stutter?”
Among the people who weren’t fond of the said moment, former White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, didn’t hold back any punches. She tweeted out about not having any idea what Biden was talking about.
However, her jab at Joe Biden evoked anger in tons of people on the tweet machine who kept telling her that the 46th president of the US has dealt with stuttering all his life. The icing on the cake was a tweet by none other than Joe Biden himself. He advised Sanders to be empathetic and stated that he has worked all his life to overcome the condition in question.
And this impactful response was enough to warrant an apology from Sanders and so she did.
“Does Joe Biden have a stutter?” One Question on America’s Mind
Twitter on December 19, 2019, was pretty wild. While some people were confused when Biden didn’t smoothly utter the next word after “I,” others didn’t hesitate before making fun of him by calling this instance of stuttering an “Uncle Joe senior moment”. While this situation was cooled down after Biden himself chimed in the discussion, what’s important to note is that we are missing the big picture.
What if you are asked to name a friend or a relative of yours who stutters? We bet that you wouldn’t have to think for long. So, the point is that stuttering isn’t a rare thing. It’s quite common and has been cited as a condition that runs in families. While some people overcome it as they grow up, others aren’t equally lucky.
And to be aware of the efforts Joe Biden has put in to overcome his stuttering, his profile penned down in 2019 by The Atlantic editor John Hendrickson is a must-read for it perfectly highlights how a good portion of Biden’s life has been dedicated to learning how to become more articulate with his speeches.
A Common Misconception about People Who Stutter
When fluent people come across those who stutter, they often think of them as being dumb, fearful, or anxious. However, little do such people know that it’s not true. For example, consider a bright kid who is asked to solve a simple math problem e.g., 600 – 40. Now, the kid knows that the answer to this question is 560 and he has no doubt about it.
However, since he knows that he halts on the “s” sound, he would find it difficult to reveal the answer out loud in the class. Again, this isn’t because he doesn’t know the answer but the fact that he can’t let out, “Five hundred and sixty or five-sixty” in one go.
Now, when you read the aforementioned Biden profile and his school experience, you will realize how sad and annoying one must feel about getting picked on for something beyond their control and something that doesn’t define their overall personality.
It’s also pretty common for people who haven’t stuttered in their lives or don’t have any knowledge about the condition to assume that people dealing with it can overcome it if they would just calm down. However, this is a clear-cut case of misconception.
John Hendrickson Offers Crucial Insight into the Hard Work Required to Get Over Stuttering
In his notable Joe Biden profile, Hendrickson explained that a stutter doesn’t worsen with age. However, the level of struggle required to keep it at bay requires unrivaled physical and mental strength.
As for Joe Biden, he speaks to small and large crowds on a daily basis. And what does he do about the stuttering problem in order to ensure that he doesn’t get stuck on certain words? Well, he tries his best to replace the problematic words with easy alternatives. This method is referred to as “circumlocution”.
When people get ready to tweet their “Dementia Joe” jokes after witnessing a slight pause in between successive words uttered by him, they aren’t aware that the now-president doesn’t usually forget what he’s going to say and that he simply stutters.
Speech pathologist Eric Jackson referred to a town hall in August 2019 where Biden found it difficult to say, “Obama”, so he rather went with “my boss”. However, the media was in no mood for letting go of this moment. Over the next day, several news pieces with the headlines along the lines of “Biden Forgets Obama’s Name” were published on different sites.
So, now that you are aware of the efforts Joe Biden has put in over the years to overcome stuttering and his effective method of substituting words to sound more eloquent, you can simply watch some of his debates, addresses, and speeches, and understand that most of the times he stumbles over a word, he rebounds with a new and simpler alternative of it.
What Joe Biden can do for the Stutterers?
So, now that the question, “Does Joe Biden have a stutter?” has been answered, let’s shed light on what the current POTUS can do for people struggling with the same condition. He can give hope to countless such people and convince them how stumbling over words doesn’t disqualify them from achieving their dreams and goals.
While speaking at the American Institute for Stuttering (2016), Biden revealed that he had declined an invitation to speak at a dinner years earlier because he was afraid that if people found out of his condition, they would think that something was wrong with him.
But fast forward to today, Biden has the support of a good portion of the US population.
You may not agree with Joe Biden’s stance when it comes to running the country but you cannot deny that he has overcome his fair share of problems and inspired thousands, if not millions, of people not only in the US but across the world.