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Douglas Andrews / August 25, 2021

Jill Biden Could’ve Kept Us From This

More than anyone, the first lady had to know about her husband’s cognitive decline years ago.

The moment was jarring, pathetic, sad.

There was Joe Biden, the Leader of the Free World, in mid-June shuffling around in tennis shoes on an outdoor patio at the G7 Summit. He looked lost, bewildered, and in need of a friendly face. A reporter asked him how his meetings were going, but he looked confused. So she repeated herself, and he finally gave her a thumbs-up and a meek “Very well.” Then he turned to see his wife, Jill, hustling toward him and waving her hand frantically. She reached for him, grabbed him, and pulled him away hurriedly as if to say, Now, Joey, you know what I’ve told you about talking to strangers. See for yourself:

Like we said, sad. What must those patrons have been thinking to see an American president looking so feeble, so helpless, so unpresidential? They didn’t seem quite sure whether to smile reassuringly or avert their collective gaze, but in the end they burst out in laughter at the sight of Old Joe being led away like that. What must the rest of the world have been thinking? What must our allies and our geopolitical foes have been thinking?

More important: What must Jill Biden been thinking in the years leading up to this moment, knowing full well her husband’s declining cognitive ability and yet still allowing him to run for the most difficult job in the world?

Sorry. Make that Doctor Jill Biden.

We should stipulate here that we believe attacking a sitting first lady of either party is bad form — although Hillary Clinton certainly deserved all the opprobrium she received during her eight years in the White House. Jill Biden, though, seems different. She seems to have coveted this role for decades, even more than Joe Biden coveted the presidency — and that’s saying something.

Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy, herself a mother of nine and the wife of a former congressman, appears to have broken with the pack on this line of questioning: “When you look at what’s hurting America, when you look at this lack of leadership, and you wonder, who are the people responsible for putting someone this incompetent and frankly this … mentally frail in this position? I’m sorry, as a political spouse, I can’t help but look at Jill Biden. … No one knew better his state of mind than Dr. Jill Biden.”

Campos-Duffy, whose husband Sean served for eight years as the U.S. representative of Wisconsin’s seventh congressional district, said that the most “patriotic thing Jill Biden could have done was … to love her husband, and not let him run in this mental state that he’s in.”

There. It needed to be said. But Jill Biden’s press secretary, Michael LaRosa, wasn’t happy about it. “Rachel Campos-Duffy and Fox News know better,” he tweeted. “They can do better and their viewers deserve better. I hope they’ll apologize to the First Lady and leave this kind of talk in the [trash] where it belongs.”

LaRosa can carp all he wants about what should and shouldn’t be said. But Joe Biden is as close as this nation will ever come to a Weekend at Bernie’s president, and Campos-Duffy has done us all a service by asking the toughest of questions: Did Jill Biden care more about becoming First Lady than she did about her husband’s health and well-being?

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