Obama blames lip stitches for ‘superfluous’ flub

Brett Michael Dykes
December 6, 2010

Even amid all sorts of political letdowns, President Obama still enjoys a reputation as a wordsmith and orator whose performances have earned the admiration of friend and foe alike. But even a first-class toastmaster can only manage to be so eloquent when he suffers from a busted lip.

[Related: Obama's split lip and 5 other presidential injuries]

After the president took an elbow to the mouth in a recent pickup basketball game, he got 12 stitches in his lower lip, making his spoken mastery of certain words a tricky proposition. And as we learned at Sunday night's Kennedy Center awards ceremony, "superfluous" is on the list of words hard to enunciate with a stitched-up lip.

Obama was quoting an opinion by former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes at the Kennedy Center festivities, when he tripped up over the sibilant word.

[Video: Obama jokes about busted lip]

"It's this lip. It's hard to say," Obama explained to a laughing audience after he repeatedly tried, and failed, to pronounce the word. "You try it when you've had 12 stitches." Eventually, the president nailed it, but you can watch a video of his struggles below:

(Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

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