Biden indeed holds a doctorate degree ― in education, which she obtained from the University of Delaware in 2007 at age 55 after 15 years of work while raising her three children.
Sometimes news outlets (such as HuffPost) use the title only for people who are medical doctors, but there is nothing inherently wrong with using it, as Biden does, to highlight her achievement.
Journal editorial columnist Joseph Epstein, however, offered his unsolicited opinion on Saturday in a piece dripping with condescension.
“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo,” Epstein began: “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? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”
The columnist spoke at length about his own career before delivering a tirade against honorary degrees given to the likes of Stephen Colbert. But to reiterate: Biden earned her degree through more than a decade of study; it was not given as an honorary title.
Epstein encouraged Biden to “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.”
Biden has been a staunch and longtime advocate of public education; it is not clear why Epstein mentioned public housing.
Epstein, for his part, does not have a doctorate; he has only a bachelor’s degree.
Biden’s spokesman, Michael LaRosa, snapped back on Twitter at James Taranto, the Journal’s editorial features editor, who oversees the op-ed pages.
″[Y]ou and the @WSJ should be embarrassed to print the disgusting and sexist attack on @DrBiden running on the @WSJopinion page,” LaRosa tweeted. “If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologize to her.”
Biden’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, tweeted an even more succinct criticism: “Sexist and shameful. Be better @WSJ.”
Twitter users ― a group made up in part of lawmakers and celebrities, including actor Debra Messing ― prompted the word “doctor” to trend on the social media site by chastising the New York City–based newspaper for publishing Epstein’s editorial.
Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, offered support as well. “This story would never have been written about a man,” he tweeted.