President Joe Biden was at a public transit station in Wisconsin, talking about repairing roads and bridges, when he shifted gears and began defending his plan to send money to parents for each minor child, payments some critics call a “giveaway.” Biden folded his arms, rested on the lectern, leaned into the mic and lowered his voice.
“Hey, guys, I think it’s time to give ordinary people a tax break,” he said, almost whispering as he addressed his critics. “The wealthy are doing fine.” It was the latest instance of Biden speaking volumes by whispering. The White House and communications experts say Biden’s whispering is just this veteran politician’s old-school way of trying to make a connection while emphasizing a point.
Biden’s critics on the right as well as some late-night TV talk show hosts say the whispers are “creepy” and “weird.” Conservatives use the dramatic soft talk to fuel the narrative that the president is unfit for the job, and comedians deploy it to generate laughs. “It’s an intimate form of communication,” said Vanessa Beasley, associate professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University.