“Madame First Lady –Mrs. Biden–Jill–kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name?” author Joseph Epstein wrote for his piece.
Epstein argues that because Biden’s doctorate relates to education rather than anything medical, the incoming first lady does not deserve the title.
“The Ph.D. may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences,” Epstein argues, adding that “political correctness” is partly behind the decline of doctorate degrees.
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) December 12, 2020
Epstein claims that Biden’s “dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs’.” is not enough to honor her with the title, citing an unnamed “wise man” who opined that “no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child.”
“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden,” Epstein, who possesses an honorary doctorate, writes in his conclusion.
The author’s blunt tone and questioning of Biden’s degree has set off a flurry of angry defenders on social media, many of whom have slammed The Wall Street Journal for running the “misogynistic” piece.
“What is this misogynistic crap you are publishing @WSJopinion?” Democrat strategist Eric Jotkoff tweeted.
Man with an honorary doctorate tells a woman who earned her doctorate (along with two masters degrees, and a bachelor’s degree) that she shouldn’t be called “Dr.”
— Eric Jotkoff (@Eric_Jotkoff) December 12, 2020
“This piece is cringe-inducing and dripping with resentment,” Lincoln Project senior advisor Tom Nichols added.
I am sorry to see a man whose writing I have very much enjoyed – Joseph Epstein – descend to this kind of crap in the @WSJ.
Especially because on his main point – about the honorific – I mostly agree with him. But this piece is cringe-inducing and dripping with resentment. /1 https://t.co/4SI0MkAyBB
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 12, 2020
“Translation of this piece: ‘I have status anxiety and I’m playing it out by attacking a woman for using the title Dr.–which she is fully entitled to use,’” Lawfare Blog editor in chief Benjamin Wittes wrote.
— Dr Natalie Jester (@NatalieJester) December 12, 2020
— Ms. Praline (@ms_praline) December 12, 2020
Epstein’s use of the term “kiddo” to address Biden was also particularly triggering for critics.
Congratulations to Joseph Epstein on publishing the most condescending and unnecessary opinion of the year.
Your sexist take on our incoming First Lady and her hard-earned education is trash of the lowest quality.
So, kiddo, drop the edgelord act. It makes you sound 13. pic.twitter.com/k0evD1qxyG
— Courtney Lanning (@CourtLanning) December 12, 2020
Joe, kiddo. I got my PhD when 2 ancient & 2 mod langs were required & 10y of bowing & scraping to men like you. So I use my title. Sure, It’s not for BAs like you mistaken for MDs, but for ppl like me & Dr. Biden who are mistaken for housewives. https://t.co/0Qq1wBWFij
— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) December 12, 2020
Jill Biden earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007 at the age of 55 and has since then been mostly referred to as “Dr. Jill Biden” in official documents.
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