Does Barack Obama have a speech impediment?

When Barack Obama speaks to reporters or during a debate, he says a lot of “uh” between words - moreso than most people, I’d think. He doesn’t seem to be trying to come up with the right words it just seems like he can’t “spit it out.”

Conversely, he doesn’t do this at all when he “orates” in front of a crowd - which is, I think, one of the situations where a stutter would not be present (like singing). I watched him on The Daily Show last night - all stammering. In his speech in Orlando, not a blip.

I searched on this topic and didn’t see anything. I’m surprised with all the Obama hype I’ve been reading over the past year I haven’t heard any real mention of an actual speech impediment, but I could have missed it.

Anyone ever read anything conclusive about it, or any speech pathologists around?

I don’t think it’s a speech impediment. Like most people, even most politicians, he just speaks more fluidly from a script than off the cuff. Many people say “uh” as a filler word while thinking of what they really want to say.

He seems to pause to come up with whole concepts and phrases, not individual words. His “thing” seems to be that he wants to get the whole sentence in order before he says it.

It’s different for different stutterers. But I’ve never heard Obama stutter. The “uhs” (which many people have commented on, particularly in the debates) are a vocal tic, but that’s not the same thing.

He’s not good when he tries to explain himself. Here come the ‘uhs’.

He is better when he is given control, and when he is just going to blather on about something.

His ‘uh/um’ habit: I think it will make for some hysterical press conferences.

Audible pauses are common for a lot of people in public speaking. I definitely don’t think that comes close to qualifying for a speech impediment.

FWIW, my linguistics professor used to call the schwa the “hesitation vowel.”

Not to sound dense but…even people who are lawyers, professors and politicians? (all at once) Would he not have enough training to overcome it?

Are you serious? Switch to CNN, or MSNBC, or whichever your news channel of choice is, for just five minutes. You’ll find that a lot of people use “uh” as a filler while they get their thoughts together.

And if you want to hear “professional public speakers” do it, listen to a few DVD commentary tracks with the actors talking. “This was … uh … the day that … uh … Quentin told us he wanted everybody … uh … to talk like Mike Wallace.”

Give him a break, he is translating on-the-fly from “terrorist ebonics” to “christian white people”. I for one think it is quite impressive.

I work in TV news. Uhs and ums are frequently used by civic leaders to destroy sound bites.

If it’s a hot story, we’ll use 15 seconds of reply. A dry topic is 10 seconds. An um (plus its machinations) takes up around two seconds of that.

Michelle Obama is especially good at this.

He’s got a small stutter, too. In extemporaneous speech when he’s rolling, he tends to repeat the first syllable or short word three or four times really quickly.


At least he doesn’t say “you know” three times in every sentence. Drives me crazy.

I’m glad he doesn’t say “my friends.”

When I hear Obama speak, it seems very deliberate. Like he doesn’t want to be misunderstood. Like he wants to sound “better” than he might otherwise sound. I know that what I say tends to come out harsher than I intend quite often. In my case, it seems to stem from being very direct.

Obama is near my age, I know that black kids that “sounded white” got a lot of flack and the ability to cross dialects was pretty prevalent. I would bet that he received a lot of pressure to fit in in several worlds. I rarely have heard Obama sound “black,” but I have noticed that some structures to how he says words, says that he can dialect-switch with the best of them. Only problem, you wanna see an already scared whitey run fast? Let’s hear Obama speak the slightest bit “black.”

Aw hell, I guess what I’m saying is that he has so many different reasons for being pathologically self-aware, I can absolutely see how it could affect his speech and speech patterns. Maybe he has Bidenitis and just controls it better.

Deliberate. Like I said earlier it seems like he doesn’t want a message to go out at all.

This makes the media question his intent.

If you start paying attention to this kind of thing you will notice that it is a human condition, not an impediment. The ones that don’t demonstrate characteristics like that can sound too smooth and untrustworthy.

The most severe case I have witnessed is an artist/sculptor who I know that will frequently break out in the most horrible cackle you can imagine when talking to people in a social situation. Yet, when talking about his work, he is the most direct, steady talker you can imagine. It’s a matter of the comfort zone.

Well, yeah, exactly. One of his greatest skills is his oratory, and he wants to make sure that he doesn’t fuck that up by saying the wrong words by accident. It’d be good if he could do that without pausing, but I think the pauses are better for him.

[deleted political semi-snipe]

He does say “you know” a lot.

If Obama has a speech impediment, what has Bush got? :eek:

How does Palin measure up here? :rolleyes:

So this is a deliberate technique? That’s fascinating. Are there other national politicians who use it? I have trouble thinking of anyone else on the national stage who has so many “Uhs” and “Ums.”