Meet Jill Biden: “After her first day of teaching at [Northern Virginia Community College] she asked her Secret Service detail to get rid of their suits and ties and dress like students. When they turned up the next day in Dockers, sweaters and ties, she politely asked them to tone it down a little more.” She supposedly doesn’t want to stand out on campus, but she’s a little prickly about the recognition of her academic attainments:
She’s…been mocked for her insistence that people call her “Dr.” She even corrected a soldier she greeted at Fort Bragg, who said, “Hello, Mrs. Biden,” according to an account on Twitter. (Biden’s spokeswoman said that didn’t occur.)
Biden has defended her preference, telling People, “Ya know, I worked hard for that degree.”
Dr. Biden’s White House page confirms her insistence that she be recognized as “Dr. Biden.” Dr. Biden received her Ed.D. degree in “educational leadership” in 2007 from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation was titled “Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs.”
Dr. Biden provides an interesting contrast with Lynne Cheney, her immediate predecessor as Second Lady. Mrs. Cheney also has a right to the honorific “Dr.” having worked hard to earn a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century British literature from the University of Wisconsin. Mrs. Cheney’s dissertation was titled “Matthew Arnold’s Possible Perfection: A Study of the Kantian Strain in Arnold’s Poetry.” Unlike Dr. Biden, however, she has never asked to be called “Dr. Cheney,” let alone corrected a soldier who called her “Mrs. Cheney.”
UPDATE: Reader Bruce Cole corrects my use of the term “honorific” rather than “title” regarding Mrs. Cheney’s doctorate. He writes: “I enjoyed the Power Line post on ‘Dr.’ Biden. Lynne Cheney does not, however, have an honorific ‘Dr.’ but an earned Ph.D. degree.” He adds that Mrs. Cheney is of course also an accomplished historian, scholar, and author of best-selling books on American history for young people as well as the past chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986-1993), a position that Cole also occupied.