October 20, 2022

Jill Biden Is in Control at the White House

Taking on important roles as an unelected representative further enfeebles the presidency.

Joe Biden is a man in cognitive decline. As much as his handlers try to keep him out of the limelight, when the president does have interactions with the press or attempts to give a speech, his bumbling, fumbling, and often contradictory answers give weight to his diminishing mental faculties. It gives rise to speculation as to who exactly is running the White House and the United States government. One candidate, at least for a good chunk of the glad-handing and intervention in her husband’s mishaps, is First Lady Jill Biden.

In the nearly two years that Joe has been in the Oval Office, Jill has made a name for herself being his firm shepherd. She is a staunch guard against those who may try to ask him questions. Though this is admirable in a wife who is helping her husband navigate cognitive decline, Joe is the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. Jill’s actions have merely reinforced the image of an addled old man being toted around by his wife.

As our Douglas Andrews wondered more than a year ago, “What must Jill Biden have 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?” It’s an important question to ask.

Jill Biden may not be a carbon copy of Edith Wilson — who was in many ways thrust into a more political role as first lady due to President Woodrow Wilson’s stroke — but in many respects they are alike. Jill is a second wife; so was Edith. Jill is a wife to a progressive Democrat; so was Edith. Both Jill’s and Edith’s husbands did or are doing a disastrous job in the White House. A final eerie comparison is that both Jill and Edith were heavily involved in the politics of the West Wing.

According to the White House website, Edith “pre-screened all matters of state, functionally running the Executive branch of government for the remainder of [Woodrow’s] second term.” Jill reportedly prescreened former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, vetted senior aides, and regularly berates Joe’s handlers for not rescuing him more quickly from his own gaffes.

Jill is largely considered the favorite stand-in for the president. She is often sought out by Democrats across the country to encourage and fire up the base. In a piece for The New York Times, Katie Rogers writes, “The first lady has long been thought of in Biden world as a ‘closer’: a surrogate they rely on to travel to corners of the country that her husband cannot easily reach, ideologically or geographically.” This is no doubt true when you consider the alternatives: Vice President Kamala Harris or the president himself. Jill is a better communicator, but that isn’t saying much. After all, she did foolishly claim: “All books should be in the library. All books. This is America. We don’t ban books.” She also called Hispanic diversity “as unique as the breakfast tacos.”

The most important point, however, is that Jill Biden is not an elected representative. The American people elected her husband, not her. Taking on ever-more important roles such as being a stand-in for the president on Democrat campaign trails or vetting White House employment positions has succeeded in making the chief executive look even more feeble and unlikable — not to mention an easy target for our enemies, foreign and domestic. Was this Jill’s plan all along? Was she, as our Nate Jackson recently put it, using her “cognitively impaired husband in order to reach the top of the power ladder”?

If Jill is the puppet master behind the presidency, then her policies — which she might describe as “unique as the breakfast tacos” — leave us more bewildered than Joe.

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