But even if Biden freezes up and slow-chops his answers on Tuesday, or says something that gets labeled a gaffe, it won’t hurt him. More likely, it’ll help him. In the choice between an authentic man grasping for words or a preening fraud, the first will usually win.
The great fear of people who stutter, as John Hendrickson wrote in a terrific article in The Atlantic on the subject, is the perception of them as “fearful, anxious or simply dumb.”
Trump wants you to think Biden is senile, out of it, “dead as a rock.” And behold, just as Biden has defied this caricature with a series of crisp, tight, moving speeches of late, Trump has only one explanation for it: saying without evidence that Biden must be taking performance-enhancing drugs.
“They give him a big, fat shot,” Trump said last weekend, “and he comes out and for two hours he’s better than ever.”
Trump should talk. Or try to talk. This is the president who confused 9/11 with 7-Eleven, who gave us covfefe, the nation of Thighland, and that great national park, Yo-Semite. His word choice, as he wrote, is unpresidented.
And when he does pronounce things properly, his words could not be deadlier or more wrong. To the horror of makers of Clorox and Lysol, he suggested that people ingest household disinfectants as a coronavirus treatment. This week, as the death toll for the pandemic in the United States passed 200,000, he said, “It affects virtually nobody.” Those nobodies, the ones who are still with us, will have something to say about that characterization on Nov. 3.
Franklin Roosevelt was something of a dandy, and certainly a man of soft-handed privilege, when he got polio at the age of 39. The months he spent in bed simply trying to move his toes helped him see the world in a way that those born on third base typically do not.