President Obama's speeches are often lauded for being profoundly articulate. Despite the astounding audio and aesthetic quality of his messages, critics have incessantly jabbed the president over his supposedly excessive reliance on teleprompters. When Obama speaks without these guides, foes claim that he's inarticulate and bumbling. But, does this mean he's unintelligent?
But consider this: 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.
Daum goes on the say that Obama's problem is that he simply sounds too intellectual:
By speaking as though he hails from everywhere, he ends up being from nowhere. The result is that people look at him and see not a Hawaiian or a Chicagoan or even a black man, but a university man.
Of course, the president enables that stigma by stammering his way through town hall meetings and other public dialogues as though they were philosophy lectures. Irritating? Sure. But inarticulate? Sorry, folks, but you'll have to find another adjective. And take your time. The right word is usually worth waiting for.
Back in 2008 (prior to the election), David Letterman did a segment on Obama's "uhs." The tongue-in-cheek clip is quite comical:
While calling President Obama "unintelligent" wouldn't be fair, the definition of "articulate" is "using language easily and fluently." One can certainly be inarticulate without being unintelligent. Wouldn't you agree?