Why does Biden stutter? The Politician opened up about his Speech Impediment.
If you’ve ever had to give a speech in front of a class, you know that sometimes, the words don’t come out exactly as you planned them in your mind. As it turns out, that phenomenon is something that President Joe Biden is familiar with too.
President Biden has dealt with a stutter for decades now, and it’s not totally uncommon for people to wonder about it. Luckily, Biden has been quite forthcoming about his experience with stuttering.
5 things about Joe Biden’s Speech Impairment
BBC reports that Joe Biden is the first United States president who stutters.
On January 2021, the news reporting network, BBC reported that the current American president is the first with speech impairment. This video is currently available on their YouTube channel titled “Joe Biden: first president with a stammer“
His speech impairment is dated back to his childhood.
President Joe Biden has lived with stuttering since childhood. Joseph Biden grew up with a pronounced stutter for which he was ridiculed. His stuttering, however, did not prevent him from pursuing a lifetime career in public service and he has been successful in the presence of stuttering. Clearly, Joe Biden is proof that a person can grow up stuttering and still aspire to the highest office in the country, a position that relies on highly effective verbal communication.
Biden was bullied because of his stuttering disorder.
The politician has struggled with a stutter since he was a child and recalled being bullied about it throughout his youth, including by a Catholic nun in middle school. Biden particularly dreaded one classroom exercise that required the students to take turns reading passages out loud.
“I could count down how many paragraphs, and I’d memorize it, because I found it easier to memorize than look at the page and read the word. I’d pretend to be reading,” he said of his internal prep work in an interview with The Atlantic.
The 80-year-old vividly remembers the text he was reciting when his schoolteacher interrupted him. “The paragraph I had to read was: ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentleman…’ And I said, ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentle man who—’ and then the nun said, ‘Mr. Biden, what is that word?'”
He knew that she wanted him to say “gentleman” instead of “gentle man,” but before he could continue, the nun asked mockingly, “‘Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden, what’s that word?'”
Though that moment had a long-lasting effect on the future president, he didn’t allow his stammer to prevent him from pursuing a high-profile career. “Be mindful of people who are in situations where their difficulties do not define their character, their intellect,” he expressed. “That’s what I tell stutterers. You can’t let it define you.”
Joe Biden’s mother encouraged him to overcome stuttering and not let it define him.
During a CNN town hall, President Joe Biden discussed stuttering. Here are some of his remarks from the event:
“It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing to do with your intellectual makeup,” Biden said. “You know, stuttering, when you think about it, is the only handicap that people still laugh about. That still humiliate people about. And they don’t even mean to.”
The President credited his mother when it came to not letting his stutter define him. He said his mother would tell him, “Joey, don’t let this define you. Joey, remember who you are. Joey, you can do it. So every time I would walk out, she would reinforce me. I know that sounds silly, but it really matters.”
President Biden spoke about how difficult it was to overcome his stutter in a 2010 appearance on ABC’s The View. In 2011, he wrote an essay for People Magazine on his experience:
“I never had professional therapy, but a couple of nuns taught me to put a cadence to my speaking, and that’s why I spent so much time reading poetry – Emerson and Yeats,” Biden wrote. “But even in my small, boys’ prep school, I got nailed in Latin class with the nickname Joe Impedimenta. You get so desperate, you’re so embarrassed.”
As a child, President Biden worked on relieving his stuttering by reciting poetry in front of the mirror while monitoring his facial reactions. Overcoming the disability and the outcast status it gave him made him that much stronger and more empathetic later in life, he noted.
“Time and time again, my parents taught me that being different is no barrier to success,” Biden said. “And the measure of a man isn’t how often he is knocked down but how quickly he gets up.”
Biden is passionate about mentoring fellow stutterers.
A speech given by 13-year-old Brayden Harrington proved to be one of the highlights of 2020’s Democratic National Convention because it revealed a side of Joe Biden that the public rarely gets to see.
“About a few months ago, I met him in New Hampshire,” Brayden shared, referring to his first encounter with Biden at a campaign event in February. “He told me that we were members of the same club: We stutter. It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice president.”
The teen explained that Biden invited him backstage and spent a half-hour giving him tips on how to control his stutter. “He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud. So I did the same thing today,” Brayden said, flipping his paper over to show the scribbles.
“I’m just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me feel more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life,” he noted. “Joe Biden cared. Imagine what he could do for all of us. Kids like me are counting on you to elect someone we can all look up to. Someone who cares.”