Is Stuttering the Tribute Cynics Pay to Sentiment?
A Gawker article about the fakeness of the DNC resonated with me. But the author makes the following puzzling claim:
“Michelle Obama stutters. She does not have a stutter. She stutters on purpose. “I-I-I, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform.” “Fr-from the young person with so much promise.” “And-and, even as a kid…”
It is a studied stutter, deployed in order to build sincerity. It is not so much a rhetorical device as an acting device. The same could be said for the presentation of almost all political convention speeches. And it is, at its core, sad.”
I too am turned off by the conventions of our conventions, and believe the RNC (and now the DNC) to be manipulative, peacocking displays. It an excellent trend that Americans increasingly agree with me and turn off their TVs rather than watch the pageantry. However, I’m puzzled by the claim that false-stuttering will make listeners more, not less, convinced of the First Lady’s sincerity. The research I’ve seen tends to the opposite conclusion. Indeed, this paper claims that even mild stuttering would be a serious impediment for a politician, let alone his or her spouse. Is there actually evidence that a mild stutter makes speakers seem more sincere?
[Update: edited for clarity.]