- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2020

Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the retired airline pilot who landed the famous “Miracle on the Hudson,” penned an op-ed over the weekend slamming President Trump’s daughter-in-law for appearing to mock 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden’s stutter.

Ms. Trump, wife of Eric Trump, the president’s son, faced a backlash last week after many interpreted her remarks about the former vice president as mocking his stutter.

“I feel kind of sad for Biden,” she told a crowd in Washington. “I’m supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time he comes onstage or they turn to him, I’m like, ‘Joe can you get it out? Let’s get the words out Joe.’ “

Mr. Sullenberger, writing for The New York Times, said he dealt with a stutter when he was younger much like Mr. Biden and that people who mock others “have no place” in public life.

“Regardless of how you feel about Joe Biden, or his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee for president,” he wrote, “whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or none of the above; whether you stuttered as a child or laughed at one who did; whether as a parent you try to protect your own stuttering child from taunts such as those made by the president’s daughter-in-law; these words come without hesitation: Stop. Grow up. Show some decency. People who can’t, have no place in public life.”

Mr. Sullenberger went on to give some words of wisdom to young children who suffer from a stutter, tying Ms. Trump’s remarks back to the president.

“You can do any job you dream of when you grow up,” he wrote. “You can be a pilot who lands your plane on a river and helps save lives, or a president who treats people with respect, rather than making fun of them. You can become a teacher to kids who stutter.

“A speech disorder is a lot easier to treat than a character defect,” he said. “You become a true leader, not because of how you speak, but because of what you have to say — and the challenges you have overcome to help others. Ignore kids (and adults) who are mean, or don’t know what it feels like to stutter. Respond by showing them how to be kind, polite, respectful and generous, to be brave enough to try big things, even though you are not perfect.”

Mr. Sullenberger mentioned that he attended a fundraiser last year in support of Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign, but insisted that “this issue goes beyond politics.”

The former Air Force fighter pilot, whose memoir was adapted in the 2016 film “Sully,” starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, has criticized Mr. Trump multiple times in recent years. In 2018, he penned an op-ed accusing the president of leading by “fear, anger and hatred” and called Republicans “cowardly” for enabling him.

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