Jibbering Joe has to Go!

By Peter DeMarco | May 14, 2020

Politics is often the best place to learn about leadership. Between now and the election, I will produce some provocative pieces on leadership from both sides of the political divide. So, try to park your politics and consider the leadership lessons you can learn as the presidential election news cycle heats up.

The Democrat’s presumptive nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, is in trouble. Set aside Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations and focus on the fatal flaw in Biden’s leadership: His inability to communicate without his words degenerating into gibberish.

Another word for gibberish is “jibber jabber” which means the sound of chatter or inarticulate speech that is not understandable. “Jibbering Joe” is the sad but necessary way to compactly describe the weak communication we are witnessing from Biden.

Biden’s “jibberish” reveals three communication qualities he lacks: coherence, clarity and credibility.

First, coherence. By now it is common knowledge that the former vice president struggles to piece together a coherent paragraph of thought. Biden’s speeches are often characterized as a kind of “word salad”. Recall all those TV doctors and psychologists, who early in 2017 were quick to diagnose President Trump’s fitness for office whenever he confused a few words, are often silent when Jibbering Joe mangles whole speeches. The mainstream media isn’t talking about it much but Biden’s word salad is evidence his faculties are diminishing and could be a potential sign of early dementia. Biden’s handlers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to present more scripted events that reduce the opportunity for Joe’s speeches to degenerate into “jibberish.” But, the gaffes continue. Biden’s 1st leader lesson: a well ordered mind is revealed in clearly organized speech. Take the time to rehearse what you are going to say, especially if you find your memory is declining.

Second, clarity. Another opposite of communication is confusion. Biden’s lack of clarity in his communication appears in his frequent random or non-sequitur moments. A non sequitur occurs when a person makes a statement that does not connect logically to the previous statement. Biden often shifts from one thought to another leaving his followers confused and wondering what he is trying to say. Psychiatrists sometimes assign the frequent presence of non sequiturs in speech as evidence of a thought disorder where the speaker conveys loosely connected ideas and is unable to keep a clear goal in mind. Biden’s 2nd leader lesson: Less is more in most communications. Focus on conveying your ideas clearly and concisely when communicating to your team.

Third, credibility. Biden has a tendency to pander to audiences by adjusting his tone and accent. Like former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, “Jibbering Joe” changes his voice to a drawl when talking to black audiences. Biden’s tendency to pander backfires when his speech produces anachronistic words like “boy” that have racist undertones. Chameleon-like communicators lose credibility with their audience, particularly young people who see these kinds of speech as inauthentic. Biden’s 3rd lesson: Respect the differences on your team. Don’t try to sound like someone you’re not or adjust your accent and tone to build a false connection with people.

Jibbering Joe’s incoherent, confusing and chameleon speech make him a weak candidate for president.

Democrats face a choice as their convention approaches. Break from the aging past and find a fresh face with executive experience among the existing herd of blue state governors or lose in November. We are likely to see some fascinating political debates emerge about Biden’s fitness for office.

President Obama gave his former vice president the following advice last year, “You don’t have to do this, Joe.” While Obama is doing his best to prop up Biden, the more Biden speaks the more it will become clear to Democrats that Jibbering Joe has to Go.

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