Former Vice President Joe Biden’s media defenders have settled on their weapon for silencing questions about his mental misfires: his childhood stutter.
“Joe Biden’s opponents on the left and right are spreading a disgusting and baseless smear that he is in ‘cognitive decline,’ based on verbal slip-ups he makes when trying to suppress his childhood stutter,” Raw Story’s Matthew Chapman wrote in a viral Twitter thread. Others in media are advancing similar arguments.
But stuttering is a weak excuse for Biden’s never-ending string of miscues — and I should know. I’ve battled a stutter my entire life. When I was a kid, I would give Starbucks baristas the wrong name to write on my cup because the “P” sound in my name would so often trip me up.
I’ve got a good enough handle on it now to where I can hold my own in TV and radio appearances, but only because I still do vocal exercises every day in my car.
All this to say: I know stuttering. I know what it looks like. I know what it feels like. I know the frustration of having people look at you like you’re an idiot while you take 20 seconds to tell them your name.
But I’ll be the first to say that stuttering isn’t a blanket explanation for Joe Biden’s miscues, and it’s certainly not sufficient to shut down questions about his mental fitness. (RELATED: Republicans Prepare Full Court Press On Joe Biden’s Mental Fitness)
I’ve dealt with a stutter my entire life. I still do voice exercises every day to manage it. I wish people would stop blaming every one of Joe Biden’s mental miscues on a childhood stutter. It’s absurd to the point of being offensive https://t.co/JSmgmBv51p
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) March 7, 2020
Stuttering can only explain why Biden sometimes has trouble articulating what he’s thinking — it can’t explain why he so often seems to be thinking the wrong things.
This isn’t to say that none of Biden’s miscues can be blamed on a stutter. I’ve noticed a few instances that might fall into that category.
When Biden seemed to forget Obama’s name, for example, it seemed to me that Biden might have gotten stuck on the “O” sound in Obama, leading him to swap in the phrase “my boss” for “Obama.”
But stuttering has nothing to do with Biden telling people he was arrested in the streets of South Africa trying to see Nelson Mandela. (He wasn’t.)
Stuttering has nothing to do with Biden pledging to appoint the first African-American woman to the United States Senate. (The Senate has already had black women, and presidents don’t appoint senators anyway.)
Stuttering has nothing to do with Biden making bizarre references to record players, it has nothing to do with Biden forgetting in which state he’s campaigning, and it has nothing to do with him confusing people and events from decades apart. It simply doesn’t.
What’s really behind Biden’s mental misfires is up for debate but the vast majority of the time, it ain’t a childhood stutter, and anybody saying otherwise is either dishonest or uninformed.
Peter J. Hasson is the editor of the investigative group at the Daily Caller News Foundation and the author of “The Manipulators: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Big Tech’s War on Conservatives“