Joe Biden laughs and claps on the debate stage.

Joe Biden Rightfully Took Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Task for Mocking His Stutter During Last Night’s Debate

"It’s called empathy. Look it up."
This article is over 4 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

During last night’s Democratic presidential debate, Sarah Huckabee Sanders sent out a cruel tweet mocking Joe Biden’s speech patterns.

Biden was talking about how he frequently gives out his personal phone number to people he meets along the campaign trail, including one child who Biden says told him–in his words, imitating the boy’s stutter–”I-I-I can’t talk. Wh-wh-what do I do?”

“I have scores of these young women and men who I keep in contact with,” Biden said.

In her now-deleted tweet, Huckabee Sanders, the woman known best for lying professionally for Donald Trump and getting angry over jokes about eyeshadow, tweeted, “I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about.”

Biden wrote back to let Huckabee Sanders know exactly how terrible she was being. “I’ve worked my whole life to overcome a stutter,” he wrote. “And it’s my great honor to mentor kids who have experienced the same. It’s called empathy. Look it up.”

Sanders, in turn, apologized for her tweet (and deleted it), saying she should have made her point “respectfully.”

I do actually believe that Huckabee Sanders didn’t know Biden’s struggles with his stutter–or at least I believe it’s possible she didn’t. I didn’t know about it until a very personal, profound profile was published in The Atlantic earlier this month.

But even if the former press secretary didn’t know about Biden’s stutter, the tweet was still terrible because it’s still written to mock speech impediments, both in general and specifically that of the child Biden was imitating. That in itself still lacks that empathy Biden mentions.

There are plenty of criticisms to be made about Biden. From his centrist policies to his weird behavior towards women to his fantasies about Republicans realizing the error of their ways as soon as Trump leaves office and suddenly learning to work in harmony with Democrats–there’s no shortage of things to drag Biden over. Mocking a stutter (just like going after someone’s appearance–that thing Huckabee Sanders thought Michelle Wolf did at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that actually never happened but she managed to stir up a lot of manufactured outrage over it anyway!) is not a form of valid political criticism. It just makes you look like an asshole.

(image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.