Clarence Page is a 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary and has been a columnist and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board since July 1984. His column is syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services. He has been based in Washington, D.C. since May 1991. Page was also a regular contributor of essays to The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer and a host of documentaries on PBS. He is a regular panelist on Black Entertainment Television’s weekly Lead Story news panel program. Mr. Page was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 1992.
His homepage is found at chicagotribune.com/columns/clarence-page/
NOVEMBER 26, 2019
Are Joe Biden’s gaffes tied to stuttering? I know from experience what that feels like.
Joe Biden and I share a problem that’s not always easy to talk about. In fact, that’s the problem. We stutter. That makes a lot of things hard to talk about.
Now that the 77-year-old former vice president is running for president, many people understandably are asking whether his notorious gaffes, bloopers and stumbles are related to his age.
For example, Google up “Biden forgets Obama’s name” and you will be linked to video and commentary about Biden briefly blocking on the former president’s name before quickly substituting “my boss.”
Yes, there have been a number of occasions in which Biden in his haste rattled off a real blooper, like referring to the “G-8” when he meant G-7.
Or referring in last week’s Democratic debate to his endorser Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois as “the only African American woman ever elected to the Senate” — even as a surprised and amused Sen. Kamala Harris, the second African American woman elected to the Senate, stood only a few feet away.
But his “my boss” moment was different. It sounded to me like a familiar stutterer’s dodge: When you bump up against a word that’s not going to let you proceed without a struggle, you just switch to another word.