Jill Biden for president? It's more real than you think
President Joe Biden is expected to announce soon after the State of the Union address that he will run for a second term. Increasingly his wife Jill Biden is taking on a bigger role.
Soon after he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Joe Biden is expected to announce that he will seek a second term as president. Americans should demand to know: is Joe the candidate…or is Dr. Jill?
Jill Biden, who goes by "Dr." by dint of a Ph.D. in education, is reportedly an increasingly important presence in the White House and is expected to serve on the campaign trail as the president’s surrogate and adviser. That’s right. The woman who last year had to apologize for comparing Latinos to "breakfast tacos,", has, according to Bloomberg, become the most influential person in the West Wing.
The departure of longtime adviser and Chief of Staff Ron Klain has created something of a power vacuum in Biden’s close circle, allowing Jill considerably more sway.
Jill Biden has been described as the president’s closest confidant and has influenced not only his decision to run again but also policy decisions and key hires, such as his choice for Secretary of Education. She is fiercely protective of Joe, though it is not clear what exactly she is protecting him from.
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She weighs in regularly on the president’s schedule and presentation and has frequently been caught on camera steering Joe away from pesky reporters.
An embarrassing video recently captured yet another instance of the president refusing to address questions from the press – on this occasion about the FBI searching Biden’s home. It occurred at a Lunar New Year event, where Jill hustled Joe away from questioners and guided him onto the stage, holding his hand and issuing instructions.
Before we get too accustomed to our president being led like a trained Bassett hound on a leash, please try to envision Hillary Clinton manhandling Bill or Melania telling Donald where to go and to whom he should speak. No, you cannot.
Should voters assess not only the capabilities of Joe Biden heading into the 2024 election but also those of his wife? If over the ensuing four years the president’s mental acuity declines rapidly, will Jill Biden take the reins?
Such an event would not be unprecedented. After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke in October 1919, leaving him paralyzed, his wife Edith effectively took over, concealing his disabilities from Wilson’s staff, his cabinet and Congress. Edith Wilson ran the country until the end of her husband’s term in March 2021.
Could something like that happen again? It is unlikely, given the prevalence of the media and the public requirements of a president in our era. However, it is entirely possible that if Joe Biden’s decline accelerates, Dr. Jill might play an ever-grander role in the affairs of our country. Indeed, it appears she already is.
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Some are taking notice. Offended by yet another instance of Joe Biden brushing off inquiries from the media, former GOP Rep. Doug Collins told a Fox News audience that "This has really gotten concerning because nobody, frankly in all fairness to the first lady, nobody elected her to answer questions for the president on issues that the press may have questioned."
Dr. Jill has apparently become more assertive. According to an NBC News analysis last fall, Jill has carried Joe’s message to more places more frequently than Joe himself. NBC reports she wields "unparalleled influence" in the White House.
Last year she burst into a meeting of Joe’s top aides, furious that they had allowed him to take questions at a news conference for nearly two hours. She evidently does not think Joe can stand up to two hours of inquisition.
Most likely, she worries that Joe will make yet another embarrassing goof that the White House will have to spend days correcting, as when the president appeared to condone Russia making a "minor" incursion intro Ukraine or hinting that U.S. GIs were poised to fight on Ukrainian soil.
These are not "gaffes", which Webster’s dictionary defines as a "a socially improper or unsuitable act or remark." These are drastic misstatements which could put the country at risk.
In his first year in the Oval Office, Biden held fewer than half the number of press conferences as his predecessor and one-third as many as President Obama. He also granted far fewer interviews. His second year was worse.
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Americans should ask: how can we re-elect a president who is not trusted by his wife or top staffers to hold press conferences? If he is not capable of meeting the media, how can we let him represent our country in sit-downs with rival leaders like Xi Jinping?
Last fall, polling showed that almost two-thirds of the country is "somewhat" or "very" concerned about Joe Biden’s mental fitness, including more than half of Democrats. Given the large number of videos showing the president looking disoriented or lost, the concerns are understandable.
Joe Biden will be 82 starting his second term if he is reelected. There are plenty of octogenarians who are sharp as a tack; the president is not one of them. Voters need to know Joe Biden’s mental condition.
There is an easy way to resolve these concerns, and to make it clear that Joe is in charge, and not his wife; Biden should take a cognitive assessment test and release the results.
Unfortunately, this is something he has refused to do. In an interview in 2020, Biden got downright testy, telling reporters from the Association of Black Journalists, "No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test?" He added: "Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?"
Donald Trump took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and passed with flying colors, getting a perfect score. Why won’t Biden take the 10-minute test?
Maybe Jill won’t let him. This should concern us all.
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