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Joe Biden’s battle with the English language

One of the most “reliable standards in international comedy”, says Douglas Murray in The Spectator, is the “outstanding ineloquence of American politicians”. But while Republicans are frequent targets of informed tittering, Democrats tend to get off scot-free. God knows why. Joe Biden approaches the English language “as though it were an assault course”. When he sticks to the teleprompter, he reads it with an “air of suspicion”, as if he knows it’s tricked him before and “he’s darned if he’s going to let it do it again”. When he strays off-script, “all surrounding eyes widen with fear”. Last year, flanked by his vice president Kamala Harris, the President told a crowd: “America is a nation that can be defined in a single word”. Whether or not America can be summed up in a single word, “what Biden pronounced was not a word in the English language. Or indeed any known language.” It was: “I-was-a-futum-futm-excuse-me”.

Perhaps Harris was taking notes, because her speeches have become celebrated in their own way, mainly for her attempts to imitate Obama, but “with none of the content or skill”. She picks big subjects and then proceeds to say something “simultaneously excitable, unfollowable and banal”. Last year, she said in a speech: “The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time… there is such great significance to the passage of time.” Everyone listening agreed. “Time was indeed passing – but very slowly.”