Is Barack Obama’s habit of stammering his speeches without a teleprompter an indication of a lack of intelligence or an overabundance thereof?
The issue has been raised by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who, just before going on vacation, analyzed the president’s stutter-fest last week when Obama was talking about Donald Trump.
During an address in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama was blasting the notion of Donald Trump reversing course on much of the president’s agenda if the Republican wins the White House this year.
Obama stated with a flurry of stutters: “If we turn against each other based on division of race or religion. If-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if we fall for, you know, a bunch of okie-doke, just because, you know it-it-it. You know, it-it-it-it-it-it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not gonna build on the progress that we started.”
Watch President Obama’s stutter-filled speech:
The stammer was heard ’round the world, with the video splashed as the main news story on the popular Drudge Report news site, propelling more than 2.2 million views on YouTube.
The p-p-p-problem, though, is not a new one for Obama, as he has been seen stuttering on numerous occasions throughout his presidency, as evinced in the following video:
As Limbaugh noted, there have been voices in the mainstream media that see Obama’s possible speech impediment as no problem at all.
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Take Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times. She addressed the concern that Obama is “bumblingly inarticulate” in 2011 in an editorial titled, “Obama’s fast brain vs. slow mouth,” claiming the president’s brain is racing so fast, his mouth simply can’t keep pace:
“It’s not that Obama can’t speak clearly. It’s that he employs the intellectual stammer. Not to be confused with a stutter, which the president decidedly does not have, the intellectual stammer signals a brain that is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up. The stammer is commonly found among university professors, characters in Woody Allen movies and public thinkers of the sort that might appear on C-SPAN but not CNN.”
And that’s when Limbaugh jumped into action.
“This is not a parody piece,” he noted. “This woman is dead serious.”
He repeated Daum’s comments sarcastically, saying: “Oh, no, no, no, no, that’s the intellectual stammer. He’s not stuttering. And it happens because Obama’s so smart, oh, my God, we can’t even comprehend. He’s so, so, so smart that his mouth just can’t keep up with his brain. It’s that simple. It’s kind of like people you see on C-SPAN, but you would never see them on CNN.”
But in his continued analysis, Limbaugh went on to claim that there is indeed such a thing as an intellectual stammer:
The intellectual stammer is an actual rehearsed and practiced art of speech in the intellectual world. It is done purposely, and the purpose of it is to convey serious, deep ponderances, incredibly deep thoughts. The intellectual stammer is designed as a signature, in a way, to set the intellectual way, way, way apart and above you. The intellectual stammer, as I say, is a practiced and honed speech pattern. I’ve recognized it. I have been able to learn it and mock it and imitate it. I’ve seen it frequently.
Hear Rush’s delicious analysis:
Many intellectual stammerers were regular guests on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line. In fact, this L.A. Times piece goes on to say that Buckley himself was one who engaged in the intellectual stammer. Nobody would ever think that Buckley stuttered! No, no, no, no! And so if nobody would ever think that William F. Buckley stuttered, nobody should ever think that Obama would stutter, even though he clearly does. What Obama did is not the intellectual stammer. Obama didn’t even get close to the intellectual stammer.
The intellectual stammer does not happen at nearly the rapid pace that Obama was stuttering in that sound bite. The intellectual stammer goes something like this. Imagine you’re watching C-SPAN and some host has an intellectual on. The intellectual is dressed in a coat and tie. He’s wearing an Oxford button-down shirt. Intellectuals never wear collars that are not button-down. I mean, if they wear coats and ties these days, the collar always has buttons; never just the standard, point collar. Always. Buttons are required.
And in some cases, the shirt will be a light blue or a white. The tie will be askew. The knot in the tie will be unbalanced and never closed all the way to the top of the collar on the shirt. It’ll be a little loose, the top button buttoned and a little off center, and the knot will be unbalanced. This is to convey that the intellectual is so important, he doesn’t have time to worry about such mundane things as appearance. The hair? Intellectual hair is rarely in place. It looks windswept and slept on – helmet hair, pillow hair. It is stringy.
In some cases, bald spots are a positive. The jacket will never match the slacks. You never see that if they’re seated somewhere on C-SPAN. But there’s a look. Intellectuals have a look. They have a uniform, they have a look, they have a speech pattern. Well, you’ve got the picture here. Sometimes the intellectual has rotten teeth. They don’t even have time to brush their teeth! They’re so brilliant, they’re so constantly focused, that mundane things that takes up time that’s considered a waste of time.
So the appearance is classic.
You must notice some or all of these characteristics in order to be able to just visually to spot an intellectual. There must be glasses. The glasses will either be worn at the bridge of the nose or on the forehead or the top of the head, or they will actually be worn near the eyes as though they’re being used, but they are props as well. The intellectual will always have some in his right hand – or a pen or a pointer or something. Madonna used this trick. Every press conference, Madonna – when sitting down – always had a pen in her hand.
It conveys intelligence, it conveys that you’re writing, it conveys substance. And then, of course, the host begins the questioning of the intellectual. “Tell us… Uh, tell us, Professor, what precisely should we conclude from your assertation on the fourth paragraph of your monologue that you have submitted to your publisher three-or-four nights ago? What should we conclude from your assertion that the mating habits of the Australian Rabid Bat are random and not programmatic?”
The intellectual will pause and smile, look condescendingly at the interviewer. (clears throat). “Um, well, y-y-y-y-you see, uh, w-when exploring the – the – the – the proposition that the mating habits of the Australian rabid bat…” That’s the intellectual stammer. The intellectual stammer is not “the the the the the ba, ba, ba, ba, ba.” The intellectual stammer is a (impression) considered … slow … pondering … deep-in-thought stammer, and it only occurs so the intellectual can take the needed time to properly put together and assemble his brilliant answer.
It’s to convey deep thought happening while speaking two things at the same time. “Well, you see, the mating habits of the Australian Rabid Bat? Yes, well, uh, uh, uh, I think if – if – if you deeply examine the proposition of the Australian Rabid Bat, whether or not we’re talking random, whether talking about programmatic, the problem, nevertheless, really, is: How do we know?” And you’re supposed to go, “Whoa! My God! I can’t believe I’m in the presence of such brilliance!”
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