The narcissism of Jill Biden

Power is a helluva drug. No wonder she won’t let Joe quit.

Jenny Holland

Topics Politics USA

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Surely one of the most ill-timed articles in all of journalistic history was published earlier this week. Vogue has produced a fawning piece about US first lady Dr Jill Biden (not a medical doctor), just days after her husband’s historic, doddering meltdown at the presidential debate against Donald Trump.

The opening paragraph of the Vogue article provides a spectacular description of the first family currently under fire, unwittingly showing them as completely out of touch with the mood of a very tense nation. The journalist writes breathlessly of the experience of being driven around in a presidential motorcade:

‘Rules don’t apply: on a cool spring day, driving down suburban Minneapolis side streets, we run red lights and whip round curves so fast I can barely take in the commonplace American view. Tract housing, big box stores, churches, office parks, semi-industrial no-man’s-land. Finally, we arrive at our destination, Nine Mile Brewing, in Bloomington, Minnesota. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go”, commands someone – a Secret Service agent, maybe – as the motorcade pulls into a loading dock. Politics, I will come to discover in the next few days, involves a lot of backstage spaces: service entrances, freight elevators, places where Very Important People can slip in and out of events unnoticed.’

At a time when Joe Biden’s estrangement from the nation he nominally leads has rarely been as hotly discussed, Vogue treats us to a Biden-eyed view of the ‘commonplace American’, living in his ‘no-man’s-land’. It then contrasts that with the life of ‘Very Important People’ like Dr Jill, who can ‘slip in and out of events unnoticed’, because the ‘rules don’t apply’ to them.

When the journalist first sets eyes on Jill, it’s a semi-religious experience:

‘An entourage of 30 or so are noisily hustling to follow a trim, blonde woman in a pristine white suit as she strides nonchalantly past clanging, gurgling brewing vats, aiming for a back office. This is my first glimpse of first lady Dr Jill Biden: exiting the sealed chamber of power into the middle of America, a vision of calm amid utter cacophony.’

This must be one of the best – and no doubt unwitting – descriptions of the upper echelons of American politics right now. It captures a ruling elite sealed off from the people, kept in pristine condition and chauffeured to and from pantomime appearances among ordinary American citizens – in this case, working at a brewers.

The photo of the first lady on the cover is equally telling: she stands with her arms rigid by her side, wearing an angular white coat dress. The tagline reads, ‘We will decide our future’, leaving many to question who, exactly, are the ‘we’ she is referring to.

In the immediate aftermath of the debate disaster, in which a clearly not-all-there Joe Biden froze up and slurred his words, it was widely reported that Jill was – to put it mildly – encouraging her husband to keep going. She was ‘undaunted’, kissing babies and drinking cherry juice at a campaign stop in Michigan. It’s said that she is a ‘fierce advocate’ for him remaining in the race. ‘We will continue to fight’, she tells Vogue. All this despite the continued draining of support from Democratic allies, and an uptick in support for Trump in the polls. The sharks are definitely circling Biden’s presidential campaign, with many reports of key Democratic figures telling Joe he cannot run for re-election. But as far as Dr Jill is concerned, ‘Yes, you can’.

No doubt, she has grown accustomed to the perks of the job – like serving Vogue puff-piece writers ginger-honey tea out of ‘dainty china cups’ or having her granddaughter’s lavish wedding in the White House. The wedding was also – I’m sensing a pattern here – covered in Vogue.

The vanity of Dr Jill is quite something. She wants the world to see not just how powerful and important she is; she also wants to pose as a virtuous warrior for justice who just wants to help children learn how to read – one of her pet causes. And for most of Biden’s presidency, the fawning courtiers of American media were happy to go along with the act.

That was until now. After that debate last week, Democrats and their media cheerleaders can no longer deny or dismiss long-standing concerns over Joe Biden’s senility. It was clear for all the world to see that the president of the United States – the most powerful leader in the world – is non compos mentis.

Yet Dr Jill continues to insist otherwise, despite all evidence to the contrary. Power must be a helluva drug. For the Bidens, it might be time to sober up.

Jenny Holland is a former newspaper reporter and speechwriter. Visit her Substack here.

Picture by: Norman Jean Roy/Vogue.

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Topics Politics USA


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