Department Of Silly Stuff
In 2007, at 55, Jill Biden did earn a doctorate -- in education, from the University of Delaware. Since then, in campaign news releases and now in White House announcements, she is "Dr. Jill Biden." This strikes some people as perfectly appropriate and others as slightly pompous, a quality often ascribed to her voluble husband.
Last week, the White House announced that Jill Biden had returned to the classroom -- thought by some who study the presidency and vice presidency to be a historical first. She is teaching two courses at Northern Virginia Community College, the second-largest community college in the U.S. She began her new job before last month's inauguration; the announcement was delayed out of respect for that event.
It's been my experience that when reporters use the phrase "some people" they are indirectly expressing their own opinions and are too lazy to find and name a source who agrees with them. That aside, however, the article leaves the impression that Jill Biden is both pompous and money grubbing. Other vice-presidential wives have done volunteer work, or they wrote books. They didn't actually work for pay. That apparently is, well, unseemly and detracts from their husband's job and prestige, which is not a good thing for a mere appendage to do.
And the honorific? Oh please! What is so awful about claiming the title appropriate to an earned degree? Here's a clue:
"It's a funny topic," Goldstein said. "Occasionally someone will call me 'doctor,' and when that happens my wife makes fun of me a little bit. But nobody thought it was pretentious to call Henry Kissinger 'Dr. Kissinger.' "
I went to graduate school and the two women professors in the department were invariably called by their first names while their male counterparts were referred to as "Professor" or "Doctor." That was forty years ago.
I guess some things never change, or at least won't until there are more Jill Bidens -- Dr. Jill Bidens -- willing to insist on that change.