Last night, Jonah Goldberg dared to write on Twitter that “the rote insistence that Jill Biden be referred to [as] ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ is kind of silly.” I also ridiculed the “Dr. Jill Biden” reference in President Obama’s speech, asking to be reminded what she’s a doctor of.
I knew, and Goldberg later pointed out, that Jill Biden holds a doctorate in education. This means, said Goldberg, that she isn’t a “real” doctor.
Today Goldberg reports that his comments elicited a remarkable amount of anger and bile. Apparently, the left considers it improper to have a laugh at the pomposity of Democratic public figures.
And make no mistake, Jill Biden’s insistence on being called “Dr.” is pompous. As Goldberg explains:
Washington is teeming with people with Phd.s (never mind law degrees!). Among my friends alone, I can count at least a dozen people who are technically entitled to be called “Doctor.” But if I caught, say, Shannen Coffin insisting that people call him Dr. Coffin (a great name for an evil scientist btw), I would mock him mercilessly.
In my experience inside the beltway, insisting on being called “doctor” when not being addressed by students is a sign of vanity or some other insecurity (I’m of course talking about non-medical doctors). And people who insist on calling other people “Dr.” do so for similar reasons — out of an over-compensating need to show respect. That need itself exposes an obvious double standard. I don’t recall Lynne Cheney being called “Dr. Cheney” very often. She has a PhD. in English Literature. Her dissertation was titled “Matthew Arnold’s Possible Perfection: A Study of the Kantian Strain in Arnold’s Poetry.” That sounds at least as worthy of respect as Jill Biden’s dissertation: “Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs.”
Jill Biden is proud of her academic credentials and has every right to be. But that pride need not extend to insistence on a title seldom used by others in similar circumstances. If she nonetheless insists, those of us who find it amusing need not pretend that she is acting normally.
JOHN adds: Well put, Dr. Mirengoff!