Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, on Saturday slammed an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal for urging Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden – a doctor of education - to "drop the doc" in her name. Unlike in some countries, Americans tend to only refer to themselves as 'doctor' if they practice medicine; however, the appellation can technically be used by anyone with a doctorate in any field of study.
Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit. She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country. This story would never have been written about a man. pic.twitter.com/mverJiOsxC— Doug Emhoff (@DouglasEmhoff) December 12, 2020
Emhoff indirectly denounced the publication for sexism, while defended Jill Biden's title, as he tweeted on Saturday afternoon that she was “an inspiration” to him, as well as her students, and “Americans across this country”.
In the WSJ op-ed on 11 December essayist Joseph Epstein, a lecturer at Northwestern University, had referred to Joe Biden’s wife as “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo."
He then added that “Dr. Jill Biden” sounded and felt “fraudulent, not to say a touch comic."
Underscoring that Jill Biden’s degree was “an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students' Needs”, Epstein added:
“A wise man once said that no one should call himself 'Dr.' unless he has delivered a child.”
The author of the article proceeded to berate the generally perceived “relaxation of standards in university education” and concluded that while "the Ph.D may once have held prestige”, it has since been “diminished by the erosion of seriousness”.
Epstein then urged Jill Biden to consider “stowing” her Ed.D. “at least for now".
"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," wrote Doug Emhoff.
A chorus of voices were similarly quick to spring to Jill Biden's defence.
Democratic political strategist Atima Omara deplored what she branded a "hot trash take" on Dr. Biden.
I just caught up to this hot trash take on Dr Biden. A white guy with a BA bragging about his teaching career in academia as in part justification as to why Jill Biden shouldn’t be using her doctorate in education she earned is peak white male supremacy https://t.co/9S5h4Yi6qJ— Atima Omara (@atima_omara) December 12, 2020
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's husband, Chasten Buttigieg went on Twitter to reproach the op-ed as a sign of blatant “lack of respect for women”.
The author could’ve used fewer words to just say “ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women.” https://t.co/jr9hICPzV4— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) December 12, 2020
Ex-US Senate candidate Trish Zornio tweeted that this was surely an instance of “men threatened by women smarter than them”.
A man who does not have a PhD says Dr. Jill Biden is “fraudulent” and “comic” to use her title because her doctorate isn’t in medicine.— Trish Zornio (@trish_zornio) December 12, 2020
✔️ Filed as “Men threatened by women smarter than them.”https://t.co/PuYV5P7yK4
There has not yet been any official comment from The Wall Street Journal.
‘Teaching is Who I Am’
Jill Biden, born in June 1951, and second wife Democrat Joe Biden, has worked as a teacher for decades.
Besides a bachelor's degree, she has two master's degrees, and a doctorate of education from the University of Delaware in 2007.
Jill Biden, 69, taught at a community college, a public high school and at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents.
During her husband’s stint as vice-president under then-president Barack Obama, Mrs. Biden was professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
Teaching is not what I do. It's who I am.— Dr. Jill Biden (@DrBiden) August 18, 2020
I'll be giving my convention speech tonight from my former classroom.
Brandywine High School. Room 232. pic.twitter.com/NXx1EkqVGq
"Teaching is not what I do. It's who I am," she tweeted in August 2020.