By Beatriz Pascual Macías I
United Nations, (EFE).- The President of the United States, Joe Biden, sometimes stutters. He does this in a very subtle way, dragging or repeating certain words, which went almost unnoticed this Wednesday in his grand speech before the United Nations General Assembly.
Biden, 79, managed to overcome stuttering almost completely with great discipline. As a child, he practiced reciting poetry in front of the mirror to detect facial expressions associated with stuttering, and now as president, he rigorously plans in advance the pauses he will take in every speech.
It’s a technique that appears in the film ‘The King’s Speech’, one of Biden’s favorites and which depicts the determination with which King George VI of England battled stuttering to be able to deliver speeches on the radio. , like the crucial one in 1939 in which the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.
The president, who attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI two days ago, made several very marked pauses during his major speech before the United Nations, the second of his presidency and which had aroused great expectations because of the war in Ukraine.
In a nearly half-hour long speech on the grand stage of world diplomacy, Biden denounced that Russia wants to wipe Ukraine off the map and called on the world to take strong action to stop the Russian aggression, which “flagrantly” violates the founding principles of the UN.
Although he has learned to manage his stutter, words betray Biden especially when he is tired, as he himself admitted in 2020 during the presidential campaign.
His rival, Republican Donald Trump, mocked Biden’s stutter; but the Democrat ignored him and, instead of being intimidated, attacked his rival for being a “thug”.
Biden has given several speeches to young people who stutter, and during the campaign he befriended a 12-year-old with speech impediments, Brayden Harrington, whom he met at an event. in the state of New Hampshire and who a few months later was the guest of honor at the Democratic National Convention.
“Joe Biden made me feel confident about something that has bothered me my whole life,” the little boy said in what was one of the most emotional speeches at the convention.
During his nearly half-century political career, Biden has rarely spoken about his past stuttering, and whenever he does, it’s to inspire others.
This speech impediment, as he himself admitted, defined his character. As his sister Valerie told the Los Angeles Times in 2019, the stutter and the struggle to overcome it has made Biden more empathetic, able to feel greater compassion for others when they’re struggling with something.
In the United States, some three million Americans suffer from varying degrees of stuttering, defined by the involuntary repetition of sounds, syllables, or words.
In addition to Biden, other leaders and celebrities have suffered from speech impairment throughout history. Examples include former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had trouble pronouncing the letter “s”, or actress Marilyn Monroe, whose famous breathy voice was the result of her efforts to overcome a stutter.
Web edition: JuanK Ochoa