Skip to comments.Diagnosing Dr. Biden (Jill)
Posted on 04/26/2013 3:16:22 PM PDT by neverdem
The second lady exemplifies a bloated class of people with irrelevant, unimpressive titles.
Doctor Biden has joined Twitter as @DrBiden. The account is run by Dr. Jill Bidens Office, and it tells us absorbing things about Dr. Biden things such as Yesterday, Dr. Biden hosted an education roundtable and Yesterday, Dr. Biden honored the nations top teachers. It retweets praise, too: Thank you Dr. Biden for your work as an educator and as a voice for all educators in our nation, reads one tribute. If a tweet is signed Jill, the doctoral bio informs us, this indicates that it is a tweet from Dr. Biden. Jill, if youre wondering, is Dr. Bidens nickname. Her formal name is Dr.
Wherever she goes and whatever she does, Dr. Biden is always referred to as Dr. Biden. Is Joe Biden married to a physician? wondered the Los Angeles Times in January. You might have gotten that impression while watching television coverage of the inauguration. Yes, you might have indeed.
Dr. Biden isnt a physician, of course. She has a doctorate in educational leadership, whatever the hell that is. This Ed.D gives her the right to call herself Dr. in much the same way as my Masters degree gives me the right to put MA after my name. Perhaps my Twitter handle should be @MA(Oxon)Charles?
Titles of nobility be damned; as a means of signaling that one is a person of general acceptability, an advanced degree now works wonders. No doubt many will look at the second ladys splendid moniker and think, Gosh, Dr. Biden must be smart! She is definitely not a mechanic.
Dr. Biden is not alone in having recognized the virtue of pretending to be a doctor in public. The L.A. Times has identified a select group of non-medicos who are routinely referred to as Dr. The most prominent of these are Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Maya Angelou. Given his leveling views, quite why Cornel West insists upon describing himself as Dr. West is beyond me. Still, whatever the reason, at least he actually uses his Princeton doctorate, in academia. Maya Angelous title is derived from the more than 30 honorary doctorates that she has been awarded. Why does she add the Dr.? The Ph.D. system, complains the renegade British-American physicist Freeman Dyson, is the real root of the evil of academic snobbery. People who have Ph.D.s consider themselves a priesthood. Ah, thats why.
Its somewhat by chance that the recipients of Ph.D.s may even presume to call themselves doctors, the unfortunate product of a thousand-year-old liberal-arts traditions being seized upon by technocratic Prussians in the age of Bismarck, transformed into a paradigm of German authoritarian efficiency, and then exported back into Western faculties, including many in which it simply does not belong. Ph.D. stands for Philosophiae Doctor, a Latin term that (rather obviously) means Doctor of Philosophy in English. The Philosophy bit was intended loosely, in the classical sense of love of learning; the Doctor bit derives from docere, which simply means to teach.
Yet in most countries now, one requires a specialized research Ph.D. before one is allowed to teach in ones specialized field. This makes a lot of sense when it comes to, say, biology but not so much when it comes to English literature; nevertheless, whether you are a research chemist or a student of English literature, you are termed a doctor if you reach a certain level.
It is appreciable why a medical doctor might advertise his skill set to the public. But there is no solid reason whatsoever why someone with a Ph.D. would need the wider world to know that he is possessed of the necessary credentials to teach in a university. American etiquette books tend to mark this dichotomy, holding that it is acceptable for Ph.D.s to use Dr. within the context of their business but inappropriate everywhere else.
One can only wonder what Dr. Bidens response would be to the urgent question Is there a doctor in the house?! Perhaps Yes! Dont worry, Im here! Im not too sure how to do a tracheotomy, though . . .
In 2011, the New York Times reported that credential snobbery was causing real-world problems:
With pain in her right ear, Sue Cassidy went to a clinic. The doctor, wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope in one pocket, introduced herself.
Hi. Im Dr. Patti McCarver, and Im your nurse, she said. And with that, Dr. McCarver stuck a scope in Ms. Cassidys ear, noticed a buildup of fluid and prescribed an allergy medicine.
It was something that will become increasingly routine for patients: a someone who is not a physician using the title of doctor.
Urged on by the American Academy of Family Physicians which is concerned that, as more nurses like Dr. McCarver join the ranks of the highly and often uselessly credentialed, they will create confusion among patients some states have moved to clear things up. New York State is considering blocking nurses from describing themselves as Doctor altogether. In Delaware and Arizona it is illegal for a non-medical doctor to present himself as Doctor in a professional context without explaining explicitly that he isnt one. Congress, too, has considered legislation.
The average Ph.D. thesis, swiped the newspaper columnist J. Frank Dobie, is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. Nobody who has read the average Ph.D. thesis could disagree. Nonetheless, there are more theses, more bones, and more graveyards than ever. By brazenly encouraging the education bubble and prioritizing the collection of trophy credentials, our elites are creating a steady stream of future Dr. Bidens. The Not-a-Dr. Biden, Joe, likes to joke to fellow Ph.D. holders that his wifes advanced degree has not greatly increased her salary. True. But, as the quip implies, it has increased her prestige, and thats just as important.
Whats in a name? Shakespeare asked. That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet. Perhaps so. But whatever you call it, it remains a rose. Medical doctors are indisputably useful; perpetual liberal-arts students are quite the opposite. Until the bubble bursts there appears little that we can do about our great education fetish, but, if we cant stop the grad students from multiplying, at least we can stop the multiplication of their honorifics.
Charles C. W. Cooke, B.A., M.A., is an editorial associate at National Review.
She is ok in my Book anyone that would marry the handicap must a ok ?
Jill Biden taught English at my high school while I was there.
To bad she isn’t a psychiatrist. Being married to an idiot is not what one would like to be remembered for, VP or not.
Lots of people call themselves “Dr”. “Dr”. David Duke, for example. And “Dr”. Bashar Assad (playing ophtalmologist with his glasses made from windowglass).
I wonder whatever happened to the “Military Families” gig Biden and Moochelle used to have. Don’t see much about it on TV anymore. I guess being a “lame duck” has different priorities.
No truer words have ever been spoken.
Joe must have a big schlong, because other than that, I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want him.
And let me guess — you were more impressed with her legs than her words.
The example of a nurse (presumably with a Ph.D. in nursing) diagnosing an ear infection doesn’t really fit the rest of the column. A nurse or physician assistant is capable of a great deal of simple medical procedure, irrespective of a Ph.D. Even a parent with an otoscope can diagnose an ear infection.
This was in 1993, so she did have a nice pair of gams. I had the other English teacher though.
This is simple, don’t ask if they are a doctor. Ask if they are a physician. As a retired teacher, I saw this a lot in education.
I sometimes refer to Dr. mrs jimfree by her academic title. She’s actually a skilled historian and writer who has been published in journals as well as writing a book that is part of a reference series. I am very proud of my scholar.
BS, BS (yes I have two of them), MS
It's not just at the doctoral level. Our national fetish with formal schooling is strange and creepy.
I went to school, and I can't understand how anyone else who did would want to send their kids. I'm like Rush, who hated school from day one. He wanted to be free, like the kids outside.
PhDs were referred to as doctors hundreds of years before medical doctors ever existed. It is the MD that co-opted the title in order to elevate their standing above being an ordinary barber.
It always happens that way.
I had a professor in undergraduate school who put it this way:
“If a doctor shows enough promise while working on his MD, he might be allowed to continue studying to earn his Doctorate.”
At the time, he was miffed that the Lexington, KY Herald-Leader had decided to quit using “Dr” to address anyone except a physician. I must admit, if I had spent the time, money, and effort earning a PhD, I’d flaunt it.